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SMIFOtS) -VMrnESSITY- USRMY 



THE LIFE OF 
JAMES MONROE 



THE LIFE OF 
JAMES MONROE 



Bt 
GEORGE >IORGAN 

Autlior of " The Life of Lsfsyette," 
"Patrick Henry," etc. 




BOSTON 

SMALL* MAYNARD AND COMPANY 



Copyright, 1021 

SMALU MAVNARD and COMPANY 

dBMrponttod) 



327133 



* » ■ ate • 



Printed in tke United fttetat of America 



DEDICA TION 

To that sound democracy of the fathers which elevates 

statesmen and exacts from them masterfid 

service for all the people^ regardless 

of race, creed or condition 



PREFACE 

Readers will discern that there is an attempt here 
to re-create Monroe the Man, and so place him that 
he will stand out against the background of his own 
times. There are enough books about General Wash- 
ington to fill an ample alcove in any library; there is 
an Adams literature; and there is a Jefferson literature 
of considerable proportions; but neither Madison nor 
Monroe has fared so well. Madison wrote to Lyman 
C. Draper that a life like his, which had been so much 
a public life, "must, of course, be traced in the public 
transactions in which it was involved." This is just 
as true of Monroe's life; and it explains why we have 
endeavored to follow the flow of coincident events — 
to make the text full, accurate and consecutive, cover- 
ing the personal and social as well as political experi- 
ences of its subject. 

Luckily for Madison, his first biographer was inti- 
mately acquainted with him, but Monroe was imfor- 
tunate in that no one who lived in, or near to, his own 
epoch wrote an adequate account of his career. When 
a man serves his country as long and as well as Monroe 
did, his whole story ought to be told, not only for the 
satisfaction of a certain inborn intellectual curiosity 
— but because of the example conveyed in it for suc- 
ceeding generations. Especially is this true of one who, 
like Monroe, had the great good fortune to serve his 
fellows throughout the foundation period when prin- 
ciples were estabUshed, freedom achieved, the Con- 
stitutional cornerstone laid and the work of nation- 
building assiu-ed beyond peradventure. Monroe bore 
a part in so many undertakings during his fifty years 
of public life, his activities were so varied, his corre- 
spondence was so wide that he cannot but be classed 
as a chief participant in the vital beginnings — those 
blessed beginnings — of the great republic. 

•• 
VII 



viii FBEFACE 

Nevertheless one finds few books about him. His- 
torians and biographers, pursuing elusive truth along 
lines of their particular activities, are apt to realize 
when a thing is amiss; and we have their word for it 
that existing lives of Monroe, however useful, lack 
reach and comprehensiveness. Dr. Daniel C. Gilman's 
life (1883), dealing with the half-century between 1776 
and 1826, is the best — a well-considered, brief, biogra- 
phy; but it is essentially an outline; and it is lackmg 
alike in fullness of fact and in those Boswellian details 
that help to put back the breath of reality into a 
character of the past. While accurate and readable, it 
is altogether too thin a book, being amplified scarcely 
beyond the bounds of an article in an encyclopedia. 
What is there, between its covers, is good; what is not 
there is much missed by the student. No refiection is 
meant upon it, supplemented as it is by Prof. J. F. 
Jameson's scholarly bibliography of Monroe and the 
Monroe Doctrine, nor upon other careful sketches, 
such as Schouler's. What we 'would like to make clear 
is that in the course of a century much illuminating 
Monroe matter has appeared in some hundreds of 
letters, memoin^* journals, narratives and local his- 
tories and that here, for the first time, these unfamiliar 
details hav6 been assembled in an annotative way and 
drawn upon to enliven, strengthen and complete the 
story of Monroe's career. 

We have, of course, ^elied largely upon the documents 
in the possession of the United States Government, 
Ihe various historical societies and the private collec- 
tions mentioned in the footnotes accompanying the 
text. Under act of March 3, 1849, Congress bought 
the Monroe papers; and an alphabetically arranged 
Calendar of them was issued by the Bureau of Rolls, 
Department of State, 1893. Based upon the letters 
and documents thus listed are the seven volumes of 
the Writing of Monroe, edited by Stanislaus Murray 
Hamilton and issued by Pubiam in a limited edition 
in 1898-19012. On March 9, 1903, President Roosevelt 



PREFACE iz 

transferred the Monroe papers from the Department 
of State to the Library of Congress and on June 27, 
1904, Worthington C. Ford, then chief of the Division 
of Manuscripts, and Herbert Putnam, Librarian, gaVe 
out a compilation of the papers arranged chronologi- 
cally by Wilm'er Ross Leech, of the Division of Manu- 
scripts. From English, French and Spanish sources, 
also, thanks to Henry Adams, have come numerous 
supplementoiy or confirmatory detaik bearing upon 
Monroe's diplomatic expenences. 

These, then, are a few of the many reasons for this 
volume; but there is a special reason, and this special 
reason we shall at once underscore. 

It has now been close upon one hundred years since 
the United States promulgated the Monroe Doctrine. 
Actually, as well as historically, this Doctrine is a part 
of the nation's creed. Its own centenary will be likely 
to find it much more in the public mind than hereto- 
fore. People wish to define it — to study it ab ovo — 
they wish to know the circumstances under which it 
was adopted, and wish to stand for a moment in the 
shoes of the man who promulgated it — the fifth 
President, the last of the Revolutionary Executives, 

, James Monroe, a patriot soldier in his youth, a diplo- 
mat who underwent bitter experiences, a statesman in 
the formative period of the Union and the intimate 
associate^ of its founders. Where was he bred? Where 
sdioole^? What did he do to help win the first and 
secon3*^wars of independence? Why was he twice 

. chosen President and why, especially, did he enimciat^ 
the Itde, applicable to the whole western hemisphere, 
associated with his liame? This study of James Monroe 
and his times will help, we hope, to commemorate the 
centenary of his presidencj^^ and the centenary of the 
Monroe "^ ■ * 



CONTENTS 

WAmm 

I. The Monroes and Their Neighbors . • . • 1 

n. Boyhood, College life and Early Campaigning 15 

m. Times that Tried Men's Souls 88 

IV. Transition Time 67 

V. "No Hoop for the Barrel" 89 

VI. In the Congress of the Confederation . . 108 

VIL Monroe and the Federal Constitution . . . 124 

Vlll. Marriage — Making His Way 142 

IX. Monroe in Paris 165 

X. Rise of a Great Party 195 

XI. Monroe and the Louisiana Purchase . . 216 

XII. Monroe in England and Spain %S5 

Xin. Monroe and the War of 1812 289 

XrV. President of the United States 848 

^X V, Monroe Doctrine — Last Days 894 

Index 459 



XUSTRATIONS 



James Monroe, by Vanderlyn Frontispieoe 



James Monroe's Birthplace • 14 

Account of Monroe in Bursar's Book 86 

Oath ct Allegiance, Valley Forge 68 

Mrs. Monroe, by Sen6 14S 

Eliza Kortright Monroe (Mrs. Hay) 142 

Queen Hortense in Girlhood 165 

Mme. Campan, Grerard 256 

Queen Hortense £62 

Maria Hester Monroe (Mrs. Gouvemeur) • . • • 286 

Monroe, full length, Vanderlyn 820 

Mrs. Monroe, Benjamin West • • • . . . . 850 

Oak Hill 870 

Aquarelle Portriut of Monroe 890 

House in which Monroe Died 410 

Monroe's Tomb 480 

The Monroe Peace and Friendship Medal • • • . 450 



RECORD OF ACTIVITIES YEAR BY YEAR 

Bom, Monroe's Creek, Westmoreland County, Va., 
April 28, 1758. Father, Spence Monroe, Scotch stock; 
mother, Elizabeth Jones Monroe, Welsh stock 

CoUege, William and Mary, 1774-1776 

Soldier, enlisted in Third Virginia, 1776. Lieutenant 
in Continental Line; battles, Harlem Heights, White 
Plains, Trenton (wounded), Brandywine, Germantown, 
1776-1777 

Aide, November, 1777, aide-de-camp to General 
Stirling; at Valley Forge; at Monmouth; rank Major, 
1778 

Military Commissioner from Virginia to Southern 
Army, 1780 

Law student, under Je£Person, 1780 

Virginia Legislator; member of the Executive Coun- 
cU, 1782 

Virginia Member of Continental Congress, 1783- 
1786 

Married to Eliza Kortright of New York, 1786 

Law and Legislature, 1786-1787. Lived in Fred- 
ericksburg, Va. 

Member of the Virginia State Constitutional Con- 
vention. In opposition, 1788 

United States Senator, 1790-1794 

Minister to France, 1794 

Recalled, took leave December 30, 1796 

Returned to America and published book vindicat- 
ing himself, 1797 

Governor of [Virginia, 1799-1802 

Appointed by JeflFerson Envoy Extraordinary and 
Minister Plenipotentiary to act with R. R. Livingston 
at Paris, and Charles Pinckney at Madrid, January 12, 
1803. With Livingston, signed Louisiana Purchase 
Treaty, April 30, 1803. Commissioned Minister to 



XVI RECORD OF ACIIVITIES 

England, April 18, 1808. Commissioned Minister to 
Spain October 14, 1804. Left Spanish Court for 
London, May 21, 1805. Conunissioned with William 
Finkn^, to negotiate treaty with England, May 12, 
1806; 
British Treaty signed December 81, 1806 
Left England for home October 29, 1807 
Virginia Legislator, third time, 1810 
Reelected Governor of Virginia, fourth time, 1811 
Appointed by Madison Secretary of State (till 1817), 
1811 

Secretary of War, ad interim^ September 26, 1814 to 
March 8, 1815 
President, first term, March 4, 1817 
Tour of East, June 2, September 17, 1817 
Seminole War, 1818 
Florida acquired, 1819 
Missoiui Compromise, 1820 
President, second term, March 5, 1821 
Message enunciating the Monroe Doctrine, 1828 
Visit of La Fayette, 1824-1825 
Retired to Oak Hill, Loudon County, Va., 1825 
Regent of the University of Virginia, 1826 
Member of the Virginia Constitutional Convention, 
1829 

Death of Monroe, 1881. Died in New York City, 
July 4, 1881 
Reinterred at Richmond, Va., July 5, 1858 



LIFE OF JAMfeS MONROE 



CHAPTER r: 

• » 

The Mokboes and Their Neighbpqs in the 

Northern Neck 

* • 

Son of Spence Monroe and Elizabeth his wife, who 
were of the plain people, unrelated to the aristdcratic 
Tuckahoes, James Monroe was bom near the head -of 
Monroe's Creek, in Westmoreland County, Northern; 
Neck of Virginia, on the twenty-eighth of April, 1758. 
Young George Washington, who had long since buried 
Braddock at the foot of Laurel Mountain, was now 
writing an order for his wedding clothes to his own 
agent in London; Dinwiddie, Governor of Virginia, 
had gone back to that same London; and from it would 
soon come his gay and gambling successor, Francis 
Fauquier, who would give his name to one of the newer 
counties of the Northern Neck. 

As Accomac by the ocean is the lowermost, so this 
celebrated Northern Neck is the uppermost of the nine 
peninsulas of the Old Dominion. On one side, the 
Northern Neck follows the flow of the Potomac, border 
to border with Maryland, all the way to the mountains ; 
on the other side, it follows the flow of the Rapidan 
from its springheads in the Blue Ridge all the way to 
the spot where the wide-mouthed Rappahannock enters 
the Chesapeake Bay. Most readers will readily and 
fondly recall the romantic story of young Washington, 
the Fairfaxes and the Northern Nedk. One remembers, 
off hand, how the many millions of acres contained in 
this territory were granted by the British Crown to 



2 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Ralph Lord Hopton and others, sold by them to John 
Lord Culpeper and passed on to Lord Fairfax.^ Now- 
adays there are more than twenty counties in this vast 
region, but in Spence MoDfltoe's time (aside from a few, 
such as Culpeper, newly erected) there existed only 
the ancient lower, mother counties — Lancaster, North- 
umberland, Westmorerjuid, Richmond, King George, 
Prince William jEUld.'Sta£Pord, some of which will soon 
celebrate their, tjercentennial anniversaries. 

Many of . tie*, plantations were penetrated by salt- 
water cceeks/iind coves, rich in foodfish and in those 
gustatgry '.delicacies and delights dear to the palates 
of the: .'/proprietors. Choice estates fronted on the 
Po€0mac; others, just as advantageously placed, 
.Iqieked out upon the Rappahannock. By the latter, 
■ .dwelt "King" Carter of Corotoman — Robert Carter, 
:^ agent of the Fairfaxes — who, in the time of Spence 
Monroe's father, Andrew, " ruled the Northern Neck, '* 
though he probably did not quite succeed in ruling his 
family of fifteen children. It was he who was so impor- 
tant a person that the congregation of Old Christ 
Church, Lancaster, always waited outside until he 
had preceded them within. 

To some of the Tuckahoe people, Virginia was an 
outlying part of England. "The Virginia planter,'* 
says Robert A. Brock,^ than whom there is no better 
authority, "was essentially a transplanted Englishman 
in tastes and convictions and emulated the social 
amenities and culture of the mother country.** The 
tidewater gentry regarded themselves as adventurers 



^ "The Northern Neck was granted at di£Perent times by King Charles I and 
n to Lord Hopton, the Earl of St. Albans and othm, and subsequently by Kiu 
James 11 to Lord Culpeper, who purchased the rights of other parties. Laid 
Fairfax, who married the daughter of Lord Culpeper, beotme the proprietor of 
this princely domain known as the Northern Neck." — Philip Slau^ter, EBstoiy 
of St. Mark's Parish. See also Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, where the varioui 
grants are listed. The last Fairfax grant was made in 1780. On November IX 
1786, Gov. Patrick Henry, by a grant recorded in the same book, sfwumdl for 
the State the eminent domain of the Northern Neck. — Wilfiam and Bisnr GoObm 
Quarterly, Vol. VI. pp. 222-226. 

' Narrative and Qntical History of America. Edited by Justin Winsor» VoL IDt 
p. 153. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 8 

in a region unhappily far removed from the mother- 
land, yet blessed witii black men to do the necessary 
work. They did not bethink them of the days on ahead 
when they would have deadly trouble with the British 
and still deadlier trouble with the blacks. Their peril, 
as it seemed to them, was the red peril that lurked in 
the wilderness; and the thought of it hardened some 
of them, especially those on the border. Down by the 
little havens, the oyster creeks, the rich bottoms that 
had once belonged to the Indians, they were so secure 
from massacre as to distress themselves less about the 
dispossessed redmen than about possible pirates, such 
as the well-remembered Blackbeard. Indeed, high 
living, with its pleasures and trains of evil, was the 
worst enemy of both gentry and clergy. "The common 
Planters leading easy Lives, " wrote Hugh Jones, in 
"Tttie State of Virginia," "don't much admire Labour, 
or any manly Exercise, except Horse-Racing, nor 
Diversion except Cock-Fighting in which some greatly 
delist. This easy way of Living, and the Heat of 
Summer, makes some very lazy, who are then said to 
be Climate-Struck!*' Climate-struck, no doubt, was 
the Accomac man, neighbor of Colonel John Custis of 
q)itaph fame, who when rebuked for his unending 
ctium cum dignitate^ replied: "What's the use to worry, 
when all you have tx) do is to fall overboard to find your 
dinner?'* But, though lassitude might creep over one 
in summer, as the bay breezes blew softly in, it was 
different when frost came; then a fierce desire to hunt 
the fox, the coon, the 'possum might seize a man and 
carry him far afield. It was in reality a lively age — an 
outdoor age, a hard riding age, an age of adventure, 
of thumb-biting, of duelling, much richer m activities 
than the student is apt to credit it with. It was also 
a ripe age in the sense that the peculiar Virginia civili- 
zation of which we have hinted had been developing 
for something like a century and a half. 

Master Fitiiian, a Princeton divinity student, who, 
as tutor, lived for a year at Nomini Hall, seat of another 



4 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Carter, known as Councillor Carter, left a diary ful 
of illuminating pen-pictures descriptive of an aristo- 
cratic Virginia home quite as English as any to b< 
found in cavalier England. Religion and the lack oi 
it were equally to be noted at Nomini Hall. A dabstei 
in theology. Councillor Carter swung first to one sed 
and then to another; a bom musician, ^'his house 
resounded with the tinkling guitar, the silvery har- 
monicum (just invented by the all accomplished 
Benjamin Franklin), the violm, the flute, harpsichord 
and organ. ''^ Fithian, adds Professor Harrison, weni 
down to Virginia a "blue" Presbyterian, "but after i 
year's residence at * Nomini Hall' became almost i 
* perverted' Episcopalian in point of reverence foi 
diEUicing,|horse-racing, cock-fighting, stepping the min 
net, toasting the ladies, and other genial amusements 
then prevalent in the Northern Neck." There wen 
six hundred negroes on the sixty thousand acre place 
and some of them expected to be remembered witi 
"bits" and "half-bits," rum-and- water and "pisim 
mon" beer. The gentiy rode from plantation to plan 
tation forming house-parties, or giving balls, ladies ii 
gorgeous quilted skirts, bodices and brocades of th< 
period, with creped hair, fantastically wreathed witl 
artificial flowers and strings of pearls, "danced unti 
dawn glistened over the rosy Potomac."* Professo: 
Harrison adds that "the old baronial style of livinj 
was in this decade in its full glory; the Byrds of West 
over, the Harrisons and Carters of Brandon anc 
Shirley, the Lewises of Kenmore, the Fairfaxes o 
Greenway Court and Belvoir, the Masons of Gunstoi 
Hall, the Calverts over the Potomac, as it swept grandly 
from its cataract to the Chesapeake, the Pages anc 
Nelsons of Rosewell, the Lees of Stratford and Chan 
tilly — all kept up an easy-going, semi-feudal state 
into which the Washingtons as easily fell by right o 



^ George Waahington: Patriot, Soldier, Statesman, by James A. Harrison, 190( 
' Master Fithian, a gallant soldier, died of camp fever at Fort Waahington, 177f 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 6 

lineage, 83 well as of wealth, and influential position 
in colonial circles. " ^ 

On the Rappahannock side, the year James Monroe 
was bom. Colonel John Tayloe buUt Mt. Airy manor- 
house, still standing, "" considered by many tiie hand- 
somest in Virginia. " Not far away is the equally noted 
"Sabine Hall." 

If in Monroe's boyhood days, the Northern Neck 
was still the country of the Fairfaxes, it was also that 
of the Balls, Beales, Brents, Brockenbroughs, Brookes, 
Bushrods, Conways, Corbins, Fauntleroys, Graysons, 
Grymes, Lees, Marshalls, Masons, Masseys, Mercers, 
Mountjoys, Newtons, Peacheys, Pressleys, Seldens, 
Steptoes, Stiths, Taliaferros, Turbervilles, Traverses 
and Turners of "Smith's Mount." 

The old vestry-books contain these locally notable 
names and many besides. Some of Monroe's contem- 
poraries figure in the county chronicles and in traditions 
and anecdotes well remembered between the Potomac 
and Rappahannock rivers. One recalls "Jemmy" 
Steptoe. He was bom at Hominy Hall, Westmoreland, 
studied at William and Mary College; migrated to 
Bedford, where "as a slip of gentiUty homesick in the 
wilderness," he sighed for a companion; married a 
dau^ter of Colonel James Callaway, she being one of 
twenty-two children; and served fifty-four years as 
County Clerk. Such was the significant record of one 
of Monroe's boyhood neighbors, whose Aunt Ann 
married a brother of Washington, and whose Aunt 
Elizabeth married Philip Ludwell Lee, becoming the 
mother of an illustrious line of Lees. 

Li the days of Monroe's early manhood, the North- 
em Neck was less and less a Fairfax land and more and 
more the historic home-country of Washington, Jeffer- 
son, Madison and Marshall. 

^ Of Mmry (Ball) Washington, at sixteen, a Williamsburg letter, October 7, 
17t8, addressed to Dear Sukey," says: "Madam Ball of Lancaster and her sweet 
MoOy have (pone Horn. Mamma thinks Molly the Comliest Maiden she knows. 
Her nair is like unto Flax. Her eyes the color of yours and here Chekes are like 
May Uoasoms." 



6 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

In Civil War times, the counties of Stafford, Prince 
William, Fairfax, Loudon, Fauquier, Culpeper and 
Orange were the scenes of constant manoeuvres, count- 
less skirmishes and those great battles between brother 
and brother so fascinatingly depicted on our historic 
scroll. 

But Westmoreland was the most celebrated of the 
colonial counties. So noteworthy was the culture of that 
south shore of the Potomac, and so numerous were the 
celebrities who lived in Westmoreland itself, that it 
was designated, in the classical hyperbole to which our 
grandfathers were prone, "The Athens of America." ^ 
Athens or no Athens, it is, indeed, a most noteworthy 
matter that Westmoreland should have given us so 
great a number of public characters — the Lee brothers 
of the Revolutionary period and the equally able Lees 
of more recent celebrity. "Within an hour's ride" are 
the birthplaces of three presidents of the United States. 
The man who proposed the Declaration of Independ- 
ence was born here; and the man who wrote it, another 
president, lived only a little way to the northwest in 
the upper part of the Northern Neck. Madison* too, 
was bom in the Northern Neck — "at the house of his 
maternal grandmother, Mrs. Eleanor Conway, on the 
north bank of the Rappahannock, in the County of 
King George." 

Lightfoots, Ludwells and Fitzhughs lived their lives 
in these and other parts, intermarrying with the Lees 
and producing in each generation, men and women of 
uncommon spirit. For one example, we have, in the 
Revolutionary period, " Light Horse Harry, " or 



^ This is a favorite phrase. Writers on the Lees dwell upon the fine life at 
the Potomac and Rappidiannock seats. AmongR. £. Lee*s biographers, John 
Esten Cooke teUs esp^ally of Stratford house; Fhilip Alexander Bruce of West- 
moreland's great men; and Dr. J. William Jones of Lee's forebears in Westmore- 
land. A notable book is "Westmoreland County, Virginia, 165S-1912," compiled 
by Judge T. R. B. Wrisht, of Montross. '* Manors of Virginia in Colonial Times." 
by Edith Tunis Sale, dwcdls upon Westmoreland and its notabilities. 

' Son of James, son of Ambrose, son of John, son of John, first of the name in 
Virginia, James Madison, Jr., President, "was bom at Port Conway at twelve 
o'clock (midnight) sixth of March, 1751." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 7 

"Legion Harry,** or ** Dragoon Harry,** with whose 
mother, in her maidenhood, young Washington was in 
love, and, for another example. General R. £. Lee of 
the Civil War period, who, named after his imcles, 
Robert and Edward Carter, was related not only to 
the colonial celebrity. Governor Alexander Spotswood, 
chief of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe, but to 
the world-famous Robert Bruce. 

We have here noted these ancestral connections with 
the purpose of indicating the character and quality of 
the nei^borhood where Monroe was brought up, and 
not widi any piupose of stressing his own gentility. 
Rather do we seek to suggest a contrast. He was not 
an armiger. Though, like Washington, who was ''br^ 
a man of honor in the free school of Virginian society **^ 
it should be kept in mind that Monroe was less blue 
in his blood and grew to be a much plainer, a much 
more democratic man, than many of his contemporaries. 
Moreover, "it should be remembered," declares John 
T. Morse, Jr., "that, by good rights, neither Washing- 
ton, Jeflferson, nor even Madison, before they became 
distinguished, would have been entitled to take rank 
in the exclusive coterie of the very best Virginia fami- 
hes.*** When Washington applied to* the aristocratic 
Colonel Wilson Cary for the hand of one of his daugh- 
ters — though not Mary Cary, it seems — • he was 
informed, with some loftiness, that the lady sought 
was accustomed to ride in her coach.*** 



' George Wuhington, by Woodrow Wilson, 1897. 
' life of Thomas Jefferson, by John T. Morse, Jr. 

* Mcmcure D. Conway says that the "LowUnd Beauty" was Betsy Faimtleroy, 
afterwards the wife of the Hon. Thomas Adams. Mary Cary married Edward 
Ambler. Wariiington had at least two love affairs before he married Mrs. Martha 
Cnstii. See diafSter V, ii^ra. 

* In his address at Richmond, Va.,. October 18, 1891, on "The Colonial Vir- 
ginian,'* R. A. Brock said: "It is conclusively demonstrated in preserved record, 
|»inted and manuscript, the latter embracing the registry of land patents from 
1080 and the records of several county courts, that the settlers were preponder- 
antly English. There was a considerable number of Welsh and a sprinkling of 
Frracfa, Italians, Irish and Dutch. . . Welsh blood has been among the motive 
powers of many eminent sons of Virginia, and of their descendants in the South. 
• . . Thoe were refugee Huraenots who found asylum desultorily in Virginia 
befora 1700^ but the chief influx was in that year, when more than five hundred 



8 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Not only so, but Monroe finally became a Loudon 
man; and the pioneering people of the middle counties 
and the piedmont certainly had less of the Anglican 
tincture than the Tuckahoes. The drop of Scotch, or 
Scotch-Irish, blood was big; and so was the Welsh 
drop; and the infusion made a difiPerence. Moreover 
the "blue blood/* so to say, turned red in contact 
with the real America — its open life, its hardships, 
its necessity of making conmion cause; and, finally, 
its sunny, homely sociabiUties connected with the log 
cabin, the log school and the much-loved meeting- 
house in the wilderness. New types were developing. 
The Taylors of Orange were a strong and famous 
family. One of them, George, a great-uncle of Presi- 
dent Madison, had seven sons in the Revolutionary 
army. The celebrated Colonel John Taylor, of Caro- 
line, whom we shall meet later in these pages, was of 
this stock on his father's side and of Pendleton lineage 
on his mother's. Zachary Taylor, too, is another Presi- 
dent to be credited to these parts; for he was bom 
just south of the Fairfax line — at Hare Forest, four 
miles from Orange Courthouse. Similarly, we take 
note of many families — the Dabneys, Maurys, Fon- 
taines, all of Huguenot stock; the Winstons, Henrys, 
Slaughters, Strothers from the Isle of Thanet, and 
their multitudinous kith and kin. There was many 
an old farmer with a crest on his snuflf-box. Scotch 
penetration of Anglo-Saxon Virginia was pronounced 



came and settled chiefly at Manakintown. ... Of the Scotch but few immi- 
grants before the union of Scotland and England, in 1707, may be identified. 
After the union 'Scotch Parsoni' so potent as educators and merchants, who 
quite monopolized the trade of the country, pervaded Eastern Virginia. The 
list of famines in the colony, who in vested right used coat-armor, as attested 
in examples of such use on tombstones, preserved book plates, and impressions 
of seals, is more than one hundred and fifty. The virtue of such family invest- 
ment by royal favor may appear somewhat in the fact that the Virginia rebels, 
Claiborne, Bacon, Washington and Lee were all armigers, and among others were 
the Amblers, Archers, Armisteads, Banisters, Barradalls, Beverlys, Islands, Boil- 
ings, Byrds, Carys, Carringtons, Cloptons, Claytons, Corbins, and so on throu^- 
out Uie alphabet in swelling numbers and comprehensive examples of abihty 
and worth. Meade listed some 250 highly important Virginia families of the 
colonial period. In the matter of felon blood* Jefferson aUowed it but a one- 
thousandth part* 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 9 

from the time the tobacco traders settled at such places 
as Leeds, Dumfries and Falmouth. Scotch merchants 
grew rich. A street in Glasgow was called "Virginia 
Street*** James Monroe and Patrick Henry were by 
no means the only celebrated Virginians of Scotch 
origin. The Barbours of Culpeper were well at the front 
in their days; especially is Justice Philip Pendleton 
Barbour, of the tJnited States Supreme Court, to be 
credited with what Professor Tucker characterizes as 
his "severe and sustained logic." And the "Cohees** 
(Quoth-hes) certainly became a power in the Conunon- 
wealth. 

But the Monroes! The name in Gaelic means "red 
bog." It is a territorial surname. In Ireland, anciently, 
it was simply Ro. The first man in history to bear it 
was Occon Ro, "whose son Donald, bom in Ireland, 
went to Scotland in the beginning of the eleventh 
century to assist King Malcolm II." Malcolm gave 
him the Barony of Fowlis. " His descendants added to 
the original name the syllable Mon." At subsequent 
periods, "this name was spelt variously: Monro, Mun- 
ro, Monroe, Munroe." Ro itself survives in such 
names as that of E. P. Roe. In Massachusetts^ today, 
"Munroe" is the spelling ordinarily used; in Virginia, 
the name is "Monroe." 



1 See the Miinioe genealogy by John 6. Locke, Boston and Cambridge, 1853; 
aba the History off the Munros of Fowlis, with genealogies of the principal families 
ol the name, to which are added those of Leiangton and New England, by the 
late Alexander Mackensie, Inverness, 1808; also a sketch off the Munro Clan, 
by James Phinney Mimroe, Boston, 1900. There is a great deal about the Maasa- 
cfausetts Munroes in A. B. Muzs^'s "Reminiscences and Memorials of the Men 
ol the Bevolution," as well as about the Scotch Munroes. George Munro, ninth 
baron off Fowlis, was shiin at the battle of Bannockbum, under Robert Bruce off 
Scotland, in 1814. Robert Munroe, twenty-first baron, was killed in the service 
ol Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, defending the civil and religious liberties of 
Gcrmanjr in 16S8. Sir Robert, twenty-fifth baron, was a sealous Presbyterian 
aad, bemg remarkable for sixe and corpulency — the same figure with Colonel 
Munioe ol our Revolution — he was nicknamed '*the Pr^yterian mortar- 

Eieoe." His grandson. Sir Robcai, twenty-seventh baron, who succeeded his 
ither in 1789, was greatly distinsuished for his military services. He was in the 
battle ol Fontenoy. "He was killed in the battle of Falkirk, as was his brother. 
Dr. Monroe." " Up to the year 1651, there had been three generals, eight colonels, 
efevcn majors, thirty captains, and Bye lieutenants of the Munroe stock. At 
the battle ol Worcester, where Cromwell was victorious, several Munroes were 
made prisoners, and some of them were bound out as apprentices to farmers in 



10 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

It has been asserted that the Virginia Monroes 
^^came from a family of Scotch cavaliers, descendants 
of Hector Monroe, an officer of Charles I." Thus 
President James Monroe is given cavalier ancestry. 
This somewhat misleading statement is repeated in 
many books. While the Monroes in Scotland were of 
the cavalier cut and quality, they were hardly so in 
Virginia. Dr. Lyon G. Tyler, who has gone more 
painstakingly into the subject than anyone else, says 
that "the family in the Northern Neck of Virginia 
seems to be totally difiPerent from a family of the name 
in Southside Virginia." There were Andrew Monroes, 
it appears, in the Southside family, as well as in the 
Northern Neck family. We hear of the Rev. Andrew 
Monroe of the upper parish, Isle of Wight. John Blair, 
President of the Council under Dinwiddle, and acting 
governor, married Mary Monroe, daughter of the Rev. 
John Monroe and his wife Christian. 

. Whatever may have been the relationship of James 
Monroei with the Southside Monroes, or the Massa- 
chusetts Munroes, we do not attempt to trace. 

As revised by Dr. Tyler for this book, President 
Monroe's pedigree, according to the records of Mary- 
land and Westmoreland County, Va., is as follows: 

"Andrew^ Monroe, settled in Maryland in 1647. He took sides 
against Lord Baltimore; and, at the end of the troubles, fled across 
the Potomac to Mattox, where many of the Protestants sought 

refuge. He married Elizabeth , and died before 1668, 

when a deed from his widow Elizabeth to his children names them 



America." Among these 'was William, the'ancestor of the Magaacbnietti^Mim- 
roes. There were eleven of these in the old French war, and fourteen m the 
Revolution. They lived around Lexington and Concord* and were descendants 
of the <*l^«wUh William's six sons. All fourteen were in the Lexington com- 
pany of Theodore Parker's srandfather. Captain John Parker. Ensign Robert was 
killed at Lexington; and Captain Edmund Munroe, by a cannon ball at Mon- 
mouth. Anotl^ Lexington Munroe was the stalwart Colonel William, Wash- 
ington's host on the Lexington battleground, in 1789. 

^F. B. Sanborn, in his "Life of Thoreau," says: "The Munroes of Lexington 
are descended from a Scotch soldier of Charles II's army, captured by Cromwell 
at the battle of Worcester in 1651, and allowed to go into exile in America. His 

Kwerful kinsman. General George Monroe, who commanded for Charles at the 
ttle of Worcester, was, at the Restoration, made Commander-in-Chief for 
ScoUand." ' 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 11 

as Elizabeth, who married Bunch Roe, Susan, Andrew^ George 
and William. 

^Andrew* Monroe (Andrew), bom about 1664, married Elinor 
Spence, daughter of Captain Patrick Spence (died in 1685) and 
had issue Elizabeth, married Arrington, Andrew Spence, and 
Susannah who married Charles Tyler. This Andrew died 1718- 
1714. 

Andrew* Monroe, (Andrew^ AndrewS) died in 1785, leaving a 
Christian, and children Elinor, who married Dr. James 
Bankhead, Sarah, Spence*, and Andrew. 

''Spence* Monroe (Andrew*, Andrew*, Andrew^) married 
Elizabeth Jones, sbter of Hon. Joseph Jones, who died in Fred- 
ericksburg in 1806, and had James*, President of the United States, 
Andrew, Joseph Jones and Elizabeth who married William 
Buckner. 

As the first Washington in Westmoreland, John, 
brother of Laurence, was master of a ship, so the first 
Monroe, Andrew, was a mariner. He conmianded a 
pinnace under Cuthbert Fenwick, general agent for 
Lord Baltimore. He was with Richard Ingle in 1644, 
and "was evidently a Protestant.'*^ When Ingle 
declared for parliament, Monroe took sides against 
Lord Baltimore. "Like many other men in that day 
he could not write.'' He settled first on Kent Island 
dose by the Eastern Shore, where William Claiborne 
started a colony, about 1630. Claiborne's quarrel with 
Lord Baltimore caused many of the English settlers 
to sail across the bay and up the Potomac. Numbers 
of them planted at Chickacoan, in the Northern Neck. 
Our sea-captain, Andrew, settled at Appomattox — 
not the Appomattox so celebrated in the annals of the 
Civil War, but what is now Mattox, Westmoreland. 
Charles TV^^* founder of the Tyler family of the 
Northern Neck, whose descendants intermarried with 
the Monroes and Spences, probably left Maryland at 
the same time and for the same reason. 

The Virginia Archives show that successive grants 
of land were made to Andiiew Monroe from 1650-1662, 



1 Wmiain ftsd Mary Quarterly, Vol. IV, p. 272. Two old books that deal 
th early Maryland aie Alaop's "CSiaracter of the Province of Maryland," by 

George Abop, reprinted in 1860 and "The Day Star of American Freedom.' 

by George Ip^-Lachlan Davis, 1865. 



12 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

and to John Monroe fjrom 1695 to 1719. James 
Monroe, the President, ''was bom on land of which 
his ancestor who first migrated to this country was 
the original grantee. " ^ There are numerous references 
in the Archives at Richmond to a later Andrew Monroe, 
of the Virginia House of Burgesses. He sat in the 
Assembly from 1742 to 1747. Quaint enough, siu^ly, 
is the old Westmoreland document in whidi Andiiew 
Monroe and others report upon the death of a man- 
servant who threw himself into a creek and was 
drowned. They caused him to be "buried at ye next 
Cross-roads," and a stake to be "driven through the 
middle of him in his grave, he having wilfully cast 
himself away.** Another document mentions the 
"pernicious vermin wolves," which the Washingtons 
and Monroes and others himted to extermination. 

Hugh Blair Grigsby speaks of James Monroe's father, 
Spence, as a "carpenter"; and it is a fact, as the 
records prove, that, in 1743, "Spence Monroe appren- 
ticed himself to Robert Walker of King George, 
Joiner." "But," comments Dr. Lyon G. Tyler (in 
William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. IV, p. 274), "the 
inference which he (Mr. Grigsby) draws that James 
Monroe was of low social scale is incorrect. His fathers 
and his ancestors were justices and officers in the 
militia, and had respectable estates and owned many 
slaves. It must be remembered that Virginia was 
settled chiefly by the people of the English cities, in 
which the dignity of the trades was stoutly maintained. 
The gentlemen of the counties of England apprenticed 
their sons to the grocers, the weavers, and the tailors, 
and they did not for that reason cease to be gentlemen. 
A premium was put upon the trades by inhibiting the 
right of voting or of office-^holding to any but a member 
of one of the merchant guilds. I have found that 
many of the old leading Virginians apprenticed their 
sons to some tradesman, and that merchandizing was 



^ Virginia Calendar of State Papen. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 18 

very popular. The carpenter's trade was especially 
honorable.^ No family was more honorable or more 
influential than the Gary family of Elizabeth City and 
Warwick Coimties; and yet both the father and grand- 
father of Colonel Archibald Cary, of the Revolution, 
called themselves, 'carpenters' as well as 'gentlemen.' 
They, no doubt, served first as apprentices, as the 
custom required a regular probation of five years; 
but afterwards they performed the part of directors 
and contractors, leaving the manual labor to slaves. • • • 
These are the facts from the records, but it is also true 
that, however respectable, the Monroes never held 
the same state in society as the Lees, Washingtons, 
Allertons, Ashtons, and a few other great families 
of Westmoreland and King George counties — a fact 
which is shown by the absence of intermarriage and 
the inferiority of their estates and offices compared 
with these powerful neighbors. " 

Let it be noted here that James Monroe was not the 
only celebrated American statesman of the old Captain 
Andrew stock. Andrew, second, had a fourth child 
Susannah, named in his mil (1713). One of Susannah's 
sons by her third husband. Captain Benjamin Grayson, 
was the celebrated Colonel William Grayson, who mar- 
ried General William Smallwood's sister Eleanor. He 
was a brother of Spence Grayson and as we have shown 
of blood-kin to Spence Monroe. Colonel Grayson distin- 
guished himself in the Revolution, especially at 
Monmouth where he was at the head of one of the 
fitting regiments ; in public life prior to the adoption 
of the Constitution, which he opposed, and as one of 
the firat United States Senators from Virginia. He died 
at Dumfries, March 12, 1790, on his way to Congress. 

^Afl witnen the Wonhipful Carpenten' Company of London; and the 
Carpcnten' Companj, which buUt Carpenters' Hall, m Philadelphia, meeting- 
place of the First Continental Congress. In this connection William G. Stanard 
writes to the author: "Most sons of Virginia planters and farmers fanned them- 
•ehret; but occasionally one was a mechanic. Larkin Chew, of Spotsylvania 
Coon^, head of a lai^ and quite prominent family, sometimes styles himself 
'gentleman' and sometimes 'carpenter* or 'builder*. Onei^of the Carys was a 
buiUsr." 



14 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

He was conspicuously able in an age of brilliant men. 

We come finally to Monroe's mother, who brought 
good Welsh blood to the blending. In the main, as we 
have seen, English was the. stock of the Northern Neck, 
and both the Monroe family of Westmoreland and 
the Jones family of King George had intermarried with 
families of English lineage. Still, as was said by the 
biographer of the Hon. David S. Jones, of New York, 
common as the name is '"the characteristics of the 
Welsh race are plainly discernible in almost every 
member of the family, and are very marked in almost 
all who have become prominent in any walk of life — 
almost to a man choleric, sanguine, social, hospitable, 
independent and honorable. '' Hospitable, independent 
and honorable, the Joneses of King George certainly 
were; and it may be added that no man influenced 
James Monroe more than did his mother's affectionate 
and attentive brother, Judge Joseph Jones, whose 
solicitude for his nephew's welfare and advancement 
was unending. This Virginia worthy was a judicious- 
minded man of high character and qualifications, who 
left his impress not only upon James Monroe but upon 
the affairs of the continent. He was twice a delegate 
to the Continental Congress, and for many years served 
as a Judge of the District Court. As one learns from 
R. A. Brock (who insists that ** genealogy is now 
admitted to be one of the chief supports of history"), 
the King George family to which Elizabeth Monroe 
belonged "was the same with that of Adjutant-General 
Robert Jones, Commodore Catesby Jones and General 
Walker Jones " each of note in the history of his country. 

We have Kttle direct testimony concerning Monroe's 
mother; but there are numerous letters extant written by 
Judge Jones*; and, if she were like her brother, as she 
seems to have been, she must have possessed sterling 
qualities that served her well in the rearing of her son. 



^ Tbe letters of Judipe Joseph Jones have been published by Woithington C. 
Ford. Judge Jones' father, Janies Jones, kept an ordinary in King George, 
which his widow, Esther, continued to keq> after his death. 



CHAPTER n 

Boyhood, Colleqe Life and Early Campaigning 

We know less than we would like to know about the 
boyhood of Monroe. He never wrote the story of his own 
early experiences; nor did he have any such admirer as 
Parson Weems to go around among the old people of 
Westmoreland, Richmond and King George Counties, 
gathering up the anecdotal matter that might now 
serve us in Keu of fragmentary data. No doubt our 
Westmoreland lad was busy enough. He sailed, he 
fished, he rode, he followed the hounds and bird dogs. 
Probably he was out and about with (he black boys 
much of the time. It was the custom. For instance, it 
is on record that the youngest of Thomas Lee's six sons, 
Arthur, the unhappy diplomat, had a happy youth 
among the negroes of his own age in this same West- 
moreland country. Here bob white whistled in the 
upland fields, and the red bird in the briers down along 
the branches. Westmoreland was a great place for 
sheltering pines and cedars; and, where cedar berries 
grew, there birds were siwe to be found, winter as well 
as sununer. Waterfowl fed in the creeks; or passed 
honking overhead, in V-shaped squadrons. To imag- 
inative boys like "Legion Harry" Lee and other lads 
of the Northern Neck, the "V** was Virginia's initial 
on wing. And, as for the Potomac fish, whole schools 
of them flashed their silvery sides within sight of the 
watchful boys on the banks of the creeks and coves. 
All must have been familiar with the London ships 
that moored at the landings. At Hobbs' Hole in the 
Rappahannock, as JefiPerson tells us in his "Notes on 
Virginia," the water was four fathoms deep; and at 
Nomini Bay on the Potomac, four and a half fathoms. 
Monroe's Creek was about the best on the shore — 



16 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

navigable for vessels four miles from its mouth, and 
for small boats another mile. No doubt grain was sent 
down in scows. If there were no miU at the head of the 
creek, then there was something lacking in the Monroe 
neighborhood. If there were no mill pond in which the 
Monroe sky mirrored itself, then the boy of the house 
missed much indeed. Probably both mill and pond 
were there. Mattox, the next creek, was three miles 
long. Historic Pope's was but two. Lower Machodac 
resembled Monroe's. It was healthier back from the 
creeks on the high ground. As yet the alluvial bottoms 
retained their fertility; and great quantities of tobacco, 
as well as cargoes of wheat, passed out at the mouths of 
the two rivers. It was when the soil had lost its magic 
quality and the waters their bounty that the old order 
perished in Westmoreland. "Chantilly, Mount Pleas- 
ant, Wakefield," sighs Bishop Meade, '"are now no 
more. Stratford alone remains. Where now are the 
venerable chm-ches? Pope's Creek, Round Hill, Nomini, 
Leeds, where are they? Yeocomico only survives the 
general wreck. Of the old men, mansions, churches, 
etc., we are tempted to say Fuit Ilium, et ingens gloria 
Dardaniumr* 

Leeds, or Leedstown, on the Rappahannock, must 
have been well known to young Monroe. "It was 
doubtless named, either by the Fairfaxes or Wash- 
ingtons, after the town of Leeds, in Yorkshire, near 
which both of their ancestral families lived. " ^ So says 
Bishop Meade, who adds: "For one thing, it deserves 
to retain a lasting place in the history of the American 
Revolution. As Boston was the Northern, so Leeds 
may be called the Southern cradle of American Inde- 
pendence. This was the place where, with Richard 
Henry Lee as their leader, the patriots of Westmoreland 
met, before any and all others, to enter their protests 
against the incipient steps of British usurpation. At 



1 The Virginia Historical Magazine, Vol. XXI, p. 885, says that the name of 
John Monroe's house in Richmond County, *'Fowlis," ^'showed that the Virginia 
family remembered the old home in Scotland.'* 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 17 

this place did they resolve to oppose the Stamp Act, 
nor allow any citizen of Westmoreland to deal in 
stamps/' 

Spence Monroe, as well as John Monroe, joined in 
the movement. Their signatures are among the one 
hundred and fifteen appended to the famous resolutions. 
It is a distinguished roll, comparable to any other in 
America. Doubtless James Monroe, now nine, heard 
the talk about the hated stamps, and bristled, as boys 
do, in defiance of the foe. It must have cost a man like 
Richard Henry Lee downright compunctions thus to 
help nullify a Crown measure. It is true, as Bishop 
M^Eule says, that ^'Virginia had been fighting the 
battles of the Revolution for 160 years before the 
Declaration." Her Masons, Lees and Henrys were 
transplanted John Hampdens. Nevertheless, Lee seems 
to have welcomed the repeal, in spite of the ominous 
declaratory act accompanying it. He led a movement 
to raise a fund of seventy-six pounds, eight shillings, 
and sent it to Edmimd Jennings, Lincoln's Inn, London, 
with the request that the money be expended for a 
Reynolds portrait of Lord Camden, "as a token of 
admiration for his opposition to the Stamp Act. '' But 
his lordship "forgot" to sit for the portrait; and, 
instead, a fine one of Lord Chatham, by Benjamin 
West, was copied and sent to Virginia. Such were the 
early amenities of an age destined to develop acute and 
bloody diflferences. And, "under influences like these,** 
says Dr. Daniel C. Gilman, "the young Monroe was 
trained in the love of civil liberty. " 

At any rate, it is clear that he breathed in American- 
ism with his first conscious breath. He sprang from 
stock that was native to American soil at least a hun- 
dred years before the War of the Revolution. What- 
ever was foreign in him had been bred out; l^e was truly 
a son of the western world, altogether rid of alien 
preconceptions, and quite ready to take on the plan- 
tation democracy of the seventeen-seventies and the 
new doctrines of his age. 



18 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

The old Monroe house near Monroe's Creek no longer 
stands; luckily there is a good print of it. Unmarked 
even by a heap of chimney-bricks, its site is no great 
distance from Washington's birthplace, Wakefield, 
between Pope's Creek and Bridge's Creek, where, a 
hundred years ago, George Washington Parke Custis 
placed a slab of freestone, but where one now sees a 
plain shaft, encircled by a fence of iron pickets. 

So narrow is this part of the Northern Neck that, 
when one looks south, he at times may see the smoke 
of the Rappahannock river steamers; or, when he 
looks north, the smoke of the boats on the Potomac. 
Those on board the Potomac steamers, if bound 
upstream, might well be in Washington within a few 
hours. On the left they would pass Uie site of Richard 
Henry Lee's Chantilly, as well as Stratford, ancestral 
home of the Lee family. Nor could they do better, 
perhaps, than recall what Bishop Meade says of 
Richard Henry Lee who, with one incapacitated hand, 
wrapped in a black silk bandage, worked harder for 
America with the other hand than any of his contem- 
poraries : 

''Was there a man in the Union who did more in his own county 
and State and country, by action at home and correspondence 
abroad, to prepare the people of the United States for opposition 
to English usurpation, and the assertion of American indepen- 
dence? Was there a man in America who toiled and endured more 
than he, both in body^ and mind, in the American cause? Was 
there a man in the Le^^islature of Virginia, and in the Congress of 
the Union, who had the pen of a ready writer in his hand, and to 
which so many papers may be so justly ascribed, and by whom so 
mudi hard work in committee rooms was performed?" 

Similar thoughts occur, as one passes George Mason's 
Gimston Hall, farther upstream, and then again arise 
other like thoughts with a glow to them, and gratitude 
in them, as one recognizes glorified Mt. Vernon on the 
cliffs of the Fairfax shore. 

But, away down below, broad, indeed, is the Potomac 

and far off are the wooded hills — dim at times and 

, quite unreachable, even with a sailor's eye. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 19 

Spyglass or no, the old halls fail to come out of the 
distance; how could they, since some crumbled long 
ago, and others were burned, and still others were 
seized upon by the ^^hants," who liked to quit the 
old chuichyards now and then for cannier quarters? 
Yet, if one but use those little reconstructing faculties 
with which the mind is blessed, he may readily replace 
the old seats and repeople the whole region. One might 
thus ride in the same coach with the writer of the 
''Journal of a Young Lady of Virginia in 1781," as she 
passed from seat to seat, visiting for a while at each — 
" Belle view, *' home of Thomas Ludwell Lee; "Selving- 
ton," home of Thomas Seldon; "Chatham," home of 
William Fitzhugh; and so on from house to house for 
many a mile. Thus in Bishop Payne's day might a 
wayfarer in Westmoreland, traveling on the ridge 
between the Potomac and the Rappahanock, have 
come uiK>n the Parson's Road, leading from Pine 
Forest glebe to Round Hill Church. This kinsman of 
Dolly Payne Madison (also of William Payne, who 
felled General Washington with his fist, during a 
political dispute at Alexandria, receiving thereafter 
not a challenge but an apology) declares that the 
Parson's Road was one of the most pleasing he ever 
saw. "It led for several miles in a direction perfectly 
straight, under an avenue of beautiful oaks." It was 
cut through the forest for the Rev. Archibald CampbeU 
— a character of particular concern to us because of 
the part he played in Monroe's development. 

Elow education was regarded in the Monroe family 
is shown by the fact that, about 1760, it brought over 
from Scotland, as a teacher, the Rev. William Douglas, 
a truly excellent man. It was he who taught Thomas 
Jefferson for four years. Good teachers were not easy 
to procure in Virginia in those days. George Wythe's 
own mother taught him Latin and Greek. Patrick 
Henry's family sent to Scotland and engaged Thomas 
Campbell, the poet, to come to Virginia, as tutor; but 
he was obliged to forego his voyage hither. Archibald 



20 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Campbell was his uncle. One of the most interesting 
Virginia schoolmasters of the period was Charles 
O'Niel, of Orange County. He taught at the Pine Stake, 
near Raccoon Ford. He played whist for silver, and 
" took his julep regularly. *' ^ His method of flogging^ 
bespoke the devicefulness of true genius. Let us who, 
in titiis humane age, are too soft to use the gad, remem- 
ber that Dominie O'Niel merely did as others were 
accustomed to do when he thrashed his unruly pupils. 
Mark Twain may be said to have died before his time 
if he left^^this world without hearing of O'Niel's 
ingenuity in the matter of enforcing discipline on 
Raccoon Creek. He used to mount a culprit " on the 
back of an athletic /Uegro, who seems to have been 
kept for the purpose. " Thereupon, the negro, who 
probably enjoyed the performance, quickly, dexterously 
and unyieldingly pinioned his rider, clamping him hand 
and foot; and thus held him while O'Niel laid on. 

A Westmoreland worthy, well known to the Monroes, 
was John Marshall's father. Colonel Thomas, *^ grand- 
son of Thomas Marshall, carpenter. '' So said Wilson 
Miles Cary, the genealogist. There was something of 
a Marshall-Monroe parallel in lineage. The Marshalls 
were Welsh. Thomas Marshall's wife was Mary Isham 
Keith, daughter of a Scotch clergyman, but descended 
on the mother's side from the Turkey Island Randolphs. 
The Randolphs had seven seats on the James, Turkey 
Island being the original one. Both James Monroe 
and John Marshall, therefore, were of Scotch- Welsh 
blood, intermingled with seventeenth century Vir- 
ginian. Colonel Thomas, mathematician, astronomer, 
soldier, was also a surveyor under Washington, whose 
close comrade he was throughout life. He was two 
years older than Washington, and is said to have been 
his classmate in Westmoreland. "Washington's field- 
notes at sixteen," says Justice James T. Mitchell,* 

^ Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia, by Bishop Meade, 2 vols.; 
vd. II, p. 90. 

s Commemorative address by Mr. Justice James T. Mitchell, in Musical Fund 
HalU 'Philadelphia, Pa., on John Marshall Day, February 4, 1901. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB SI 



"show his precocity; and the youthful Washington 
was but primus irUer pares with his associates.'' 
Colonel Thomas moved from "the Forest," "a few 
hundred acres of poor land in Westmoreland," to 
'Germantown, now Midland, south of Manassas. There, 
"in a Uttle log cabin," almost within spyglass sight 
of the dome of the Capitol at Washington, was bom 
John Marshall, oldest of fifteen children, September 24, 
1755, year of Braddock's defeat. James Bradley 
Thayer^ says: "At Midland all they can show you 
now, relating to Marshall, is a small, rude heap of 
bricks and rubbish — what is left of the house where 
he wa^ bom." The Marshalls moved on west to a 
six-thousand acre tract in the mountain region of 
Fauquier. Their house there. Oak Hill, "an unpre- 
tending frame building," still stands. Chief Justice 
Marshall used to say: "My father was ^ far abler 
man than any of his sons. To him I owe the solid foun- 
dation of all my success in life. " 

John Marshall was in Westmoreland a great deal 
when a boy. At foiirteen, he attended Archibald 
Campbell's school, where James Monroe, two and a 
half years younger, was a pupil; and they were together 
there for one year. 

Parson Campbell was a power in Washington parish, 
Westmoreland. His glebe was near JohnsviUe. He had 
two residences, one called Pomona, the other, Campbell- 
ton. He had been long in Virginia — since 1730; and 
his "scanty school" is said to have been the one 
attended by Washington and the elder Marshall. If so, 
it must have been a good school for mathematics, as 
wdl as for Latin. In any event, it is certain that 
Parson Campbell taught his own sons Archibald and 
Alexander, and at the same time prepared John Mar- 
shall and James Monroe for college. Madison also 
appears to have attended the school at Campbellton. 
There it was that both Marshall and Monroe were well- 



1 John BlanbalL by James B. Thayer; the Life of John Bianhmll by Albert J, 
Bemi4iB^ 4 yqU^ YoL I» p. 7. 



C2 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

grounded in Latin. To Marshall the frontier youth, the 
skill in philology thus acquired was of the greatest use 
when he became the first interpreter of the Constitution 
of the United States. As for Monroe, he not only 
acquired a sense of the root-meaning of words, but 
obtained something more than a smattering of a tongue 
he would need when he should go to live in France and 
Spain 

Thus, at sixteen, Monroe, tall and strong, left home 
for college. He now quit one neck of land for another 
— a very similar neck, this time between the York 
River, six miles to the north, and the James, or " Jeems," 
as every one called it, six miles to the south. He was at 
an exceedingly romantic and historically fruitful spot — 
the Powhatan-Pocahontas-John Smith country. Most 
likely the romance, the fascination of history, got into 
his blood; and along with it that Lafayette-like love 
of liberty which ever after characterized him. From 
the time (1683) Bruton church 'was built of brick "on 
the horse-path in Middle Plantations old-fields,** and 
from the time (1693) the "free school and college** was 

?ut up near by, this spot on the high watershed of the 
^ork-James peninsula gave promise of becoming the 
most important place in Virginia. And it did so become; 
for just after that, when the province-house at James- 
town was burned. Governor Francis Nicholson removed 
the capital to the Middle Plantations, where there were 
fewer mosquitoes and where the soil, the springs and 
the air were as kindly and wholesome as could be. 
Nicholson was an impulsive man, hot and peppery; and 
so much in love with Martha Burwell, daughter of 
Major Lewis Burwell, of King's Creek, that he swore 
nobody else should have her. If her father should let 
her marry, he would cut the throats of "the bridegroom, 
the minister who should perform the ceremony, and 
the justice who should give the license.** She did 
marry — Colonel Henry Armistead, being the happy 
man; but not until Nicholson, a good soul really, 
founder of King William School, now St. John's College, 



TEE UFE, OP JAMES MONROE £S 

• • 

Annapolis, had gone away, to be governor somewhere 
elde. 

To the unsophisticated and impressionable Monroe, 
l^^lliamsburg seamed to be a place of very great con- 
aequence^ Josiah Quincy, fresh from Boston, New 
York and Philadelphia, had in mind larger capitals 
with which to compare the Virginia city when he visited 
it not long before Monroe entered college; but such 
young men as those from Campbellton school had no 
colonial criterion wherewith to gauge it. Quincy found 
excellent farms around it, and whole fields of peach 
trees in bloom. The soil was sandy; the streets were 
unpaved and dusty; and the houses were mostly 
wooden. It had two ports, each a mile away — one to 
the south. Princess Anne^s port on Archer Hope Creek, 
James River side; and Queen Mary's Port on Queen's 
Creek, York River side. Oddly enough, the road to this 
landing was sometimes called ** Gallows Road," some- 
times ** Lovers* Lane," as though the man who was to 
marry and the man who was to hang trod the same 
path. What is called the Old Capitol (built in 1751, 
burnt in 1832) was then new — a charming structure 
on colonial hues, of which Independence Hall in Phila- 
delphia is so familiar an example. It stood at the east 
end of Duke of Gloucester Street, which was seven- 
eigBths of a mile long and ninety-nine feet wide; and 
the college stood at the west end. At the college, the 
street forked into encircling roads, and the grounds and 
group of buildings thus set off, with a statue of Nor- 
bome Berkeley, Lord Botetourt, in front, made an 
impressive and pleasing show. For, at the time of 
which we tell, the courtly and amiable Botetoiirt, who 
on state occasions rode from palace to capitol behind 
his six milk-white horses, was in his grave under the 
college chapel; and Dunmore, a coarser man, of the 
royal Stuart blood, was governor. 

Had not the free colonial idea already possessed them, 
Monroe, Marshall and other matriculates of the time 
might have regarded William and Mary as the gate- 



24 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

way to some higher British institution. It was the 
custom of certain Virginia gentlemen to import blooded 
horses, such as Colonel John Baylor's celebrated 
** Fearnought," and send their sons to schools in 
England or Scotland. Col. John Baylor, Sr., was him- 
self a Cambridge University man. Ten Lees were 
educated in England — Arthur at Eton, Edinburgh, 
Lincoln's Inn and Middle Temple. Of one hundred and 
seventeen Virginia boys sent abroad prior to 1800, 
nineteen were from Monroe's county of Westmoreland.* 
William and Mary was then the richest college in 
America, with an annual income of $20,000. It is a pi- 
quant, if minor, fact that a tax on peddlers who peddled 
in Virginia, went to the college. Again one is interested 
to note that from 1700 to 1776, through the donation 
of Robert Boyle, eight or ten Indians were annually 
maintained and educated at the college. Greorge and 
Reuben Sampson were the Indians whom Monroe knew 
there in 1775. Monroe also probably knew the three 
Murray boys, sons of the Earl of Dimmore, who, with 
other young royalists were students in 1774. Porto 
Bello, Dunmore's hunting-lodge, was but six miles away, 
over by the York. Almost every distinguished Vir- 
ginian of the time made it a point to visit Williamsburg*; 
and many of them belonged in the college circle. Wash- 
ington was appointed surveyor by William and Mary 
in 1749; Peyton Randolph, first president of the Con- 
tinental Congress, was an alumnus of forty years 
standing; George Wythe was schooled there in 1740; 
John lyier, Sr., Governor of Virginia, in 1754; John 
Tyler, Jr., President of the United States, in, 1802-07; 
Edmund Randolph, in 1766; Judge Spencer Roane, 
m 1779, and General Winfield Scott in 1804. Of the 



i inrginia Historical Magazine, Vol. XXI, pp. 106,107. William 6. Stanard 
investigated the subject. See also article by K. H. Greene, New England His- 
torical and Genealogical Register, Vol. XLH, pp. S50-862. 

* Lewis Hallam, of the American Company of Comedians, had made the Williama- 
burs playhouse, back of the capitol, quite famous as the American home of 
Shaikespearean plays. Sarah Hailam» a cousin of Lewis^ lived afterwards for 
many years at Williamsburg. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 25 

!ommittee of Thirty-One who framed the Virginia 
declaration of Rights and the State Constitution, at 
jast eleven, if not eighteen, were William and Mary 
len. So were four out of Virginians seven Signers of 
lie Declaration of Independence; and so were fifteen 
ut of the thirty-three members of the Continental 
k>ngress. Three out of Virginians seven Presidents of 
lie United States — Washington, Jefferson, Madison, 
lonroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and 
iachary Taylor — attended William and Mary. 
Jefferson, a freckled, red-haired William and Mary 
k>Uege youth, was fifteen years older than Monroe, 
[e had come and gone before Monroe shied away from 
lie gay Sukeys of the Apollo room, or the girls who 
ame in coaches to Bruton church. From the day 
^atrick Henry's Stamp-Act oration stirred his soul till 
lie day on which both he and John Adams died, 
uly 4, 1826, fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration 
f Independence, Jefferson was consistently and per- 
istently a liberty man against privilege and human 
xploitation. When he was in the Virginia Legislature, 
e tried to overturn slavery. Himself the eldest of 
leven children, he did overturn "primogeniture. What 
e did for democracy is best measured by the enmity 
e provoked among the multitudes who opposed him. 
iajiy of his contemporaries hated him with extreme 
ittemess. Writers of a certain school make it a point 
D minimize his merits and magnify his faults, which 
ideed were numerous and of a piece with the pro- 
iounced qualities of his ardent nature. "Long Tom," 
leople called him. "His shoulders were unusually 
quare, his neck long and scrawny, the skin of his 
ace adust, as if scorched, and of a brick-dust red, his 
lair foxy and bushy at the temples. Once seen, he 
lever could be forgotten." As for his voice, it was 
'very peculiar, very pleasant, seldom raised to a loud 
xne and his words came * trippingly off his tongue. ' " 
Tor so gaunt a man his step was light. " His carriage 
)resentea " the very curious and unusual contrast of a 



26 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

rapid graceful movement, with a long, awkward, bony 
frame. " ^ 

Jefferson's father, Colonel Peter, a regular Samson 
who could up-end two one thousand pound hogsheads 
of tobacco at once, frequented Raleigh Tavern, "the 
most famous hostlery in the colonies.*' In fact there 
is a "curious deed on record in Goochland County of 
a sale of two hundred acres of land by William Ran- 
dolph of Tuckahoe to Peter Jefferson for Henry 
Wetherbum's biggest bowl of arrack punch.** Henry 
Wetherburn kept the Raleigh, in a portico over the 
door of which was a leaden bust of the Elizabethan 
hero in whose honor the tavern was named. It was 
an old frame building with entrances on both fronts. 
An owner of the Raleigh who comes, with fitness, into 
these pages was Anthony Hay (died, 1772), father of 
George Hay, who married Eliza, daughter of James 
Monroe. It was George Hay who prosecuted Aaron 
Burr in the great treason trial at Richmond. The 
Apollo was Uie main, or banqueting, room of the 
Raleigh. Here Jefferson, who called Williamsburg 
"Devilsburg,** danced with his Belinda. 

Monroe's accounts are still to be seen in the bursar's 
books. A recorded incident shows his inunaturity. 
With other students he signed a petition to the presi- 
dent and masters against the extravagance, partiality 
and unwarrantable insolence of the Mistress of the 
college. Miss Maria Digges; but when up before the 
Board he admitted that he had never read what he 
signed. 

In Monroe's time there were about sixty students at 
the college. In his own class was another Westmoreland 

^ Tactful, slow to anger, he nevertheless upon occasion went headkuur into 
things untried and untested. John Randolph told A. J. Stansbury how Jefferson 
had urged upon his planter friends a plough with a new mould-board — "the 
mould-board of least resistance.** When the plou|^ were cast, the teams could 
not draw them through the soil. Again, he was carried away with a plan of his 
own to establish a saw-mill on a wind-swept hilltop near Montioello. The power 
was to be obtained out of the air by means of vertical sails. Not until the mill 
was almost built did his engineer say: "I have been wondering in my own mind 
how you are to get up your sawlogs.'" Jefferson was aghast* "I never thought 
of that!** said he. 



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THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 27 

lad — Jolin Bankhead; Carter Braxton's son, George, 
from £jng William; William Alexander, from Fairfax; 
Booth Aimistead from Elizabeth City; Col. W. Miles 
Gary's son Wilson from Warwick; Henry Ashton from 
Caroline; Joshua Tabb, from Warwick; John Francis 
Mercer, afterwards Governor of Maryland — all these 
were classmates of Monroe, and some of them shared 
with him the never-to-be-forgotten experiences of the 
winter and spring of 1775 and the first half of 1776. 
The Boston Tea Party, the Port Bill, the First Conti- 
nental Congress and Patrick Henry's leadership of the 
Virginia democracy were by this time familiar stories. 
King versus Congress — that was the subject of daily 
debate. It was now the spring of the rising tempest; 
of Henry's great oration in St, John's Church, Rich- 
mond; it was the spring of Concord and Lexmgton; and 
was to be the smnmer of Bunker Hill. What must 
Monroe and his classmates have seen, heard and 
thought at the old capitol, at the college and at the 
Raleigh Tavern during the various excursions and 
alarms of the Powder House period? It was a time of 
reciuring excitement, of thrills; hardly a week passed 
but what the gooseflesh crept up and down the spines 
of the WiUiam and Mary boys, anxious as they were 
to break away from their musty books and seize the 
muskets they knew they must handle. "After all we 
must fight!" said Patrick Henry, in his electrifying 
speech, on Thursday the twenty-third of March; and, 
when the phrase was repeated at William and Mary a 
few hours later, the students echoed, "We must fight!*' 
But Lord Dimmore was still at the Palace. He was the 
big man in Virginia — the King's man. He was in 
communication with General Gage at Boston, and acted 
in concert with that officer. On the evening of the 
twentieth of April, day after the battle of Lexington, 
Captain Henry Collins of the armed schooner "Mag- 
dalen," at Burwell's Ferry, on the James, landed a 
body of British marines and led them to Williamsburg 
where they broke into the powder magazine, a stone 



28 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

octagon, built by Spotswood in 1716, seized fifteen 
half -barrels of gunpowder, and made off with it to 
the vessel. In the morning there was a great gathering 
on the green. Probably all Williamsburg was there. 
We may be sure that Monroe was there. The people 
were more excited than ever. Their rights had been 
invaded. The whole big quarrel with the King had 
been brought home to tiiem overnight. They threat- 
ened Dunmore. They sent off couriers to arouse the 
military companies, who responded at once. Patrick 
Henry was especially prompt. He rallied the Virginia 
volunteers, who had been organized by order of the 
convention, placed himself at their head and marched 
toward Williamsburg with the avowed purpose of 
reclaiming the raped gunpowder for the people to whom 
it belonged. This meant a great deal to Monroe; it was 
the first armed resistance to the Crown. It meant a 
great deal to Dunmore, too. He sent his wife and 
family on board the man-of-war "Fowey**; and then 
dispatched a messenger with £330 to Doncastle's 
Ordinary, where Henry had halted his troops. The 
money was in payment for the powder seized by the 
marines. On the surface it was an apologetic peace- 
offering; in reality it was a move made to gain time. 
Apparently his lordship had repented of the Powder 
Plot and given in; and Henry went north to sit in the 
Second Continental Congress, then about to meet at 
Philadelphia. But Dunmore did not mean to give in. 
News soon came that he was assembling a fleet of war 
boats in the Chesapeake. He was threatening Hamp- 
ton. By and by he seized Norfolk. Later he burned it. 
All these events, of course, belong to history; but they 
were what Monroe fed on in his room at college when 
he might have been deep in "Z)e BeUo GaUico**; or 
they were the rumors he heard in the streets whose 
very names smacked of royalty, when he ranged them 
at night, playing at war with comrades no less eager 
than himself. But Monroe was never flighty — always 
a reasoner. What had he against the King? Perhaps 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 29 

he had not thought a great deal on the merit of the 
American cause. He hardly needed to think about it. 
It was in the air. The taxation quarrel had lasted so 
long as to generate an inveterate hostility. The sun 
rose and set upon this inveteracy; and in the watches 
of the night the challenge was: "Who comes?'* 

Most likely the silk-stockinged gentry of Williams- 
burg» the college boys on the campus and the ladies at 
the windows wanted to know who had come when one 
day there appeared in the streets a corps of frontiers- 
men so oddly arrayed as to astonish onlookers accus- 
tomed only to the sight of mild-mannered militiamen. 
Who were these fierce fellows "in green hunting shirts, 
home-spun, home-woven and home-made, with the 
words * Liberty or Death* in large white letters on their 
bosoms*' ? In their hats were buck-tails. In their 
belts were tomahawks — yes, and scalping knives. 
"Their savage and war-like appearance excited the 
terror of the inhabitants." Who were they? Monroe 
knew at once; for there among them was Lieutenant 
John Marshall, his fellow-student at Campbellton 
school. They were the minutemen of Culpeper, Fau- 
quier and Orange. 

Monroe and Marshall probably had not seen each 
other for a year. Marshall had spent that time read- 
ing Horace and Livy with another excellent Scotch 
parson — the Rev. James Thompson, a member of the 
Marshall household at Oak Hill, in Fauquier. Now 
nineteen, and lieutenant in the minutemen, Marshall 
having learned that the captain who was to drill his 
company could not be present, set forth very early 
one morning in May 1775, walked ten miles, and 
appeared betimes on the musterfield^ Soon he was 
surroimded by minutemen eager to learn the news. 



1 The muflterfield was on the property of John S. Barbour, a half-mile west of 
Cvlpepa Courthouse. An old oak marks the spot. These minutemen, raised 
at tLe instance of Patrick Henry, were the first to take arms in Virginia. There 
were one hundred and fifty from Culpeper, one hundred from Orange, and one 
hundred from Fauquier. Th^ carried the rattlesnake flag.^ Howe's Virginia 
Historical Collections. 



so THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

He talked to them an hour about the bloody business 
up Boston way. And he not only thrilled them, but 
drilled them. One of the men who was on the field 
that day said to Horace Binney: 

*'His figure I now have before me. He was about 
six feet high, straight and rather slender, of dark com- 
plexion, showing little if any rosy-red, yet good health, 
the outline of the face nearly in circle, and within ^es 
dark to blackness [really brown], strong and penetrat- 
ing, beaming with intelligence and good nature.'' His 
hair was raven-black. Every one feU under his charm. 
"Never did a man possess a temper more happy.**^ 

After the drill, Marshall challenged the minutemen 
to a game of quoits. Then he walked the ten miles 
back to Oak Hill, reaching home before sunset. It 
was said of Marshall " that he was the only man, who, 
with a running-jump, could clear a stick laid on the 
heads of two men as tall as himself. On one occasion 
he ran a race in his stocking feet with a comrade. 
His mother, in knitting his stockings, made the legs 
of blue yam and heels of white. This circumstance 
combined with his uniform success in the race, led the 
soldiers, who were always present at these races, to 
give him the sobriquet of * Silver Heels,' the name by 
which he was generally known among them."* 

How these woodland heroes "startled Williamsburg" 
is set forth by other diarists, including Captain Philip 
Slaughter, who was in Captain John Jameson's com* 
pany. Lawrence Taliaferro was colonel, and Thomas 
Marshall major of the regiment. "Shirt-men," Lord 
Dunmore called them; and he gave them a more formi- 
dable character than did the caustic John Randolph of 
Roanoke,' who said, in the United States Senate, that 
they "were raised in a minute, armed in a minute, 
marched in a minute, fought in a minute, and van^ 
quished in a minute." 

^ Eulogy on John Marshall, by Horace Binney. pp. 22-24. 
s John Marshall by James B. Thayer, 1901. 
* John Mitrfhiill by Allan B. Magnider, 1885. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 81 

m — 

One of the William and Mary students, Richard 
'I'owelly rode express through five States, carrying a 
nessage from Washington to Greene. So swiftly and 
aithfully did he execute his duty, that Washington 
resented him with a sword. H. B. Grigsby was wont 
o speak especially of "two tall and gallant youths** 
rho made their mark as junior officers under General 
Washington. His reference was to Marshall, identified 
fith the Eleventh Virginia Regiment of the Conti- 
lental Line; and Monroe, who served with distinction 
n the Third Virginia. One comes upon a mention 
low and then of Monroe's early service as a cadet, 
t has been said that he marched to Boston and took 
«rt in the siege. Hardly. Maybe he rode express, 
ind returned in time to train. That he was a cadet, 
here is no doubt whatever; for it was as such that he 
oined Colonel Hugh Mercer's Third Virginia. Mercer 
^as appointed colonel February 13, 1776. There was 
in Andrew Monroe in the second company.* Accord- 
ng to the Orderly Book* of General Andrew Lewis, 
vho succeeded Patrick Henry as Commander-in-Chief 
>f the Virginia forces, and who made his headquarters 
it Williamsburg, "cadets were young men serving in 
he ranks with a hope of obtaining a commission." 
^ notice reads: "All Gentlemen cadets are desired to 
ittend the parade constantly." The Virginia troops 
vere encamped either at College Camp — just back of 
iVilliam and Mary — or at Springfield, sometimes 
^ed Deep Spring. Multitudes of soldiers and civilians 
enlivened the city throughout the spring and summer 
)f 1776. General Charles Lee was one of those who 
vere lionized. Not a few notable Virginia officers, 
loon to leave for the battlefields, were enjoying the 
ast days home they would ever see — Major Andrew 
Leitch, mortally wounded at Harlem Heights; Major 
Edmund Dickinson, killed at Monmouth; Colonel 

^ W. 1*. R. SaffeFs Records of the Revolution, 1858. 

'Orderly Book of that portion of the American Army stationed at or near 
KTilliamsbtirg, Va., under the comnmnd of General Andrew Lewis, from March 
I8b 1776 to August 28, 1777, with notes by Charles Campbell, Esq., 1860. 



82 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

Richard Campbell, killed at Eutaw Springs; Captain 
Richard Parker, died in front of Chiuieston; Captain 
Charles Porterfield, killed in Camden fight; Cap- 
tain John Blair, also killed at Camden, and Captam 
John Fleming, killed, like Mercer, at Princeton. Colonel 
William Taliaferro and Colonel Isaac Read were to lose 
their lives in the cause. 

These were all much older men than Marshall and 
Monroe, as were the members of the Virginia Con- 
vention which met on the fifteenth of May — for 
instance. Colonel Meriwether Smith "who wore a 
cocked hat and took much snuff when earnestly engaged 
in conversation." ^ This was the Independence Con- 
vention. It proposed that Congress should "declare 
the United Colonies free and independent States." 
It ordered the organization of seven new regiments. 
On the twenty-ninth of June, Virginia became an inde- 
pendent State, with Patrick Henry as the first republi- 
can governor. 

When did Monroe join the Third Virginia? Mercer,* 
made Brigadier, was succeeded by his friend Greorge 
Weedon, keeper of the "Sentry Box" inn at Fred- 
ericksburg, an ardent Whig and thorough soldier, who 
became Colonel, June 19, 1776. On this same day 
many cadets were promoted; but not Monroe. Nor 
is he mentioned anywhere in General Lewis' Orderly 
Book. In the entry at Springfield Camp, for July 15, 
we have this : " A List of the Gentlemen Cadets* names 
to be given in this afternoon, now with the regiment; 
likewise those that are absent, and the reason for their 



1 Colonel Meriwether Smith (17S0-1794) of Bathurst, Essex County. Va^ 
WES a member of the old Congress and the Virginia Conventions of '75, '76, and 
'88. Monroe once said to Dr. Edward Bathurst Smith, of St. Louis: "Your 
grandfather was one of the earliest and most ardent patriots of the Revolution. 
He» from the beg^ning, struck out boldly and confidently for independence and 
nothing else." — William and Mary College Quarterly, Vol. VI, p. 52. 

' Mercer had been a surgeon at the Battle of Culloden. He was a captain 
under Washington in the Indian War. Once he was shot down. His conu-ades 
had gone and the Indians were upon him. He hid in a hollow tree; and then 
struck out a hundred miles through the wilderness, living on roots and rattle- 
snakes. His great service in the American army and heroic death at IVinceton 
are known to all. Mercer seemed much like Washington himself. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 99 

being absent.** However, we are "getting warm,** as 
the children say in their game. Richard Henry Lee, 
standing with two other Burgesses on the Capitol 
portico wrote on a pillar the Macbethian passage: 
"When shall we three meet again?" That was on flie 
seventeenth of June — Bimker Hill Day. Bunker Hill 
news came; and, on Jime 24, Monroe was one of six 
men who removed the arms from the palace to the 
powder house. It is on record that the First Virginia 
marched north August 16. At any rate, some of the 
Virginians who were not in the battle of Long Island 
participated, a little later, in the affair at Harlem 
Heights, including Lieutenant James Monroe and the 
gallant Major Andrew Leitch. 

There were at that time ten companies in the Third 
and Monroe was in the 7th Company, under Captain 
William Washington (born February 28, 1752) a kins- 
man of the Commander-in-Chief. He was the eldest 
son of Baily Washington, of Stafford. Six feet tall, 
broad, strong and corpulent, William Washington,^ 
soon demonstrated his excellence as a soldier. He was 
upright, amiable and generous, with agreeable manners. 
Monroe grew to be fond of him; and, as we shall see. 
Captain Washington relied upon Monroe. For a long 
while, indeed, Monroe was his chief dependance. 

We now hear of Weedon, Washington and Monroe 
at Williamsburg; and next we hear of them at New 
York. Theirs was a long summer march. The 
Virginia arrived the day before the battle 



^ William Washington was Monroe's captain at Harlem Heights and Trenton. 
He left the infantry to help recruit a regiment of dragoons. It was Colonel George 
Bi^lor's regiment; and Washington was its major. This was the regiment that 
suff ered massacre at the hands of a detachment of British under General Grey at 
Tappan, September 2, 1780. Baylor lost 67 men out of 104, all massacred while 
MMteep. Seventy horses were butchered. Washington escaped the massacre, and 
was oetailfid with the survivors of Bland, Baylor and Moylan to the SouUi. Wash- 
ington and his hone won great glory in the Carolinas — at Cowpens, Guilford 
Courthouse* Hobkirk*s Hill and Eutaw Springs. WhUe a prisoner in Qiarleston, 
he fell in love with Miss Eliot, married her and settled in South Carolina, where 
be wai called "General." He died March 6, 1810. Hard service used up Baylor; 
•od he died, when still a young man, in the Barbadoes, whither^he had sailed in 
tench of health. 



84 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

of Harlem Heights. Having withdrawn from Brook- 
lyn, the American commander fortified two lines 
across Manhattan. He was deeply chagrined be- 
cause of an adverse affair at Kipp's Bay on Septem- 
ber the fourteenth. Not unlike the carcass of an 
undressed deer, Manhattan may be said to hang by 
its hind hoofs at Fort Washington, and dip its nozzle 
in the brine at Castle Garden. In the very small of the 
back, east side, was Kipp's Bay, where, at what is now 
Thirty-Fourth Street Ferry, East River, was posted 
a brigade of half-raw, half-seasoned troops. Putnam 
was farther down the island with four thousand men. 
Washington himself was near at hand, in the house 
of Robert Murray, a rich Quaker, on Murray Hill. 
Lindley Murray, the grammarian, was a son. On 
Saturday, the fourteenth, Washington heard cannonad- 
ing from British ships in East River; and saw, crossing ' 
it, "open flat-boats filled with soldiers, standing erect; 
their arms glittering in the sun.'* Sir William Howe 
was landing a strong detachment at Kipp's Bay, with 
the view to trap Putnam before he could march up 
by the road on the Hudson River side. Washington 
galloped to Kipp's Bay, only to find his troops tibere 
in a panic. " With drawn sword, he dashed impetuously 
in. '* So headlong was he that he got among the enemy; 
in fact, a little more and he himself would have been 
taken. Anger had hold of him, as when at Monmouth, 
long after, he felt himself betrayed. But there was no 
betrayal here. All were loyal enough; the trouble was 
that manv of the men were of the militia, unused to 
big-thunder guns such as were awakening the echoes 
of Hell Gate. The sight of so many red-coats, too, 
made their courage ooze out; and these contemporaries 
of Bob Acres fled in spite of all that Washington could 
do. "Are these the men with whom I am to defend 
America!*' he asked, with bitterness. Their conduct, 
he cried, was "disgraceful," "dastardly.'* He 
abandoned Murray Hill; and sent riders on the run to 
warn Putnam of the immment springing of the deadly 



LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 85 

trap. Washington could not save Putnam; but a 
woman could — and did. Mrs. Murray spun a 
Penelope-like device. She welcomed the British oflScers 
at Murray HiU, set out cakes and cooling drinks and 
entertain^, them so successfully as to cause a long 
delay in their operations. Meanwhile, Putnam escaped 
up the island; and all was well. Clinton occupied the 
Murray house. At the Beekman house, near by, Sep- 
tember 22) Nathan Hale entered into perpetual fame. 
Lossing says: "'Hale was hanged upon an apple-tree 
m Rutger's orchard, near the present intersection of 
East Broadway and Market Streets. '* 

Such was the hmniliating news that greeted the 
Virginia troops when they joined the main army on 
Manhattan. Greneral Lord Stirling, captured at Long 
Island but exchanged, now conmianded the brigade, 
which consisted of the First and Third Virginia, 
Haslet's Delaware men and the remnant of Atlee's 
much cut-up Pennsylvania rifles. 

Two days after the affair at Kipp's Bay, Washington, 
whose headquarters were at the Colonel Robert Morris, 
or Jumel, house, heard that the British were moving 
up the island. He rode towards them. Sure enough, 
some light infantry. Royal Highlanders and Hessian 
riflemen, imder General Leslie, were pushing hard upon 
Putnam's favorite oflScer, General Thomas Knowlton 
of Bunker Hill fame. Adjutant-General Joseph Reed, 
of Philadelphia, who had galloped on ahead of Washing- 
ton, came back in a hurry, with a cry for troops to 
support Knowlton. Just then, as Reed tells us, "the 
enemy appeared in full view and sounded their bugles 
in the most insulting manner, as usual after a foxchase. 
I never felt such a sensation before; it seemed to crown 
our disgrace. *' " Washington, too, '* adds tving, " was 
stung by the taunting note of derision; it recalled the 
easy triumph of the enemy at Kipp's Bay. Resolved 
that something should be done to wipe out tiat disgrace, 
and rouse the spirits of the army, he ordered out three 
companies from Weedon's regiment, just arrived from 



86 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Virginia, and sent them under Major Leitch to join 
Knowlton's Rangers. The troops thus united were to 
get in the rear of the enemy while a feigned attack was 
made upon the front. But, as it happened, the enemy 
changed their position and the Americans came upon 
them on the flank instead of in the rear. ''^ They were 
sharply received. Leitch was shot in the side three 
times; Knowlton in the head with a musket ball. 
Reed took Knowlton on his horse and bore him from 
the field; but he soon died. "The men, undismayed 
by the fall of their leaders, fought with unflinching 
resolution under the command of their Captain. Other 
troops were sent to help them, and they began to drive 
the British; but by and by Washington withdrew his 
whole force. He praised Knowlton and thanked the 
troops imder Leitch "for being the first to advance 
upon the enemy." The word "Leitch'* was given for 
the next day's parole. The American loss was sixty; 
the British, three hundred. 

This was Monroe's maiden battle — fought in what 
is now the heart of New York City. A few nights after 
the bloody affair, he must have seen the skies just to 
the south lit as with a conflagration. And, sure enough, 
it was — for much of the city was destroyed. 

To get in the American rear, after the battle of 
Harlem Heights, Howe moved on Throg's Neck; but 
Washington withdrew northward to what seemed a 
safer spot, half way between Long Island Sound and 
the Tappan Sea. This was White Plains. When 
Monroe came up with his regiment on the night of the 
twenty-third of October, the defenses were well imder 
way. Battle held off imtil the twenty-eighth. The 
Delaware troops, which were in the same brigade with 
Monroe's regiment, suffered some losses, and the 
Maryland troops quite heavily. A twenty-hour storm 
of rain and wind put an end to the battle, in which the 
Americans lost one hundred and forty and the British 



1 Irvmg*s Life of Washington, Vol. II, p. S6 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 87 

two hundred and twenty-nine. Monroe had started in 
with a battle a month. 

Washington now crossed to the Jersey shore. He 
was on the point of evacuating Forts Washington and 
Lee; but Congress intervened, so that further disaster 
followed. Howe stormed Fort Washington, November 
I69 and America lost three thousand good troops. 
Greene barely got out of Fort Lee with two thousand. 
Meantime General Stirling, who had crossed the 
Hudson south of Stony Point, "threw out a scouting 
party of a hundred men to take possession of the gap 
through which a road passed into the Jerseys." His 
lordship used Captain Washington's Company as 
scouts; and most likely Monroe was in this advance 
party. He was about to learn what it meant to retreat. 



CHAPTER m 
The Times That Tried Men's Souls 

We now come to the most notable adventure in Mon- 
roe's soldier life. This adventure was by no means a 
detached episode; in fact, to put it in its proper setting, 
we must teU of the retreat of the Continental Army 
from the Hudson, the Hackensack and the Passaic, 
all the way across Jersey to the Delaware ferries; we 
must teU of that memorable December of darkness 
and disaster — of desperation, indeed; and, finally, we 
must tell of Washington's spirited and skilful Hessian 
stroke — with the resultant passing of the crisis for 
him and for America. We are all the more free in these 
pages to speak of the Trenton crisis because Monroe 
bore a highly creditable, if not heroic part, in it. What 
happened to him at this critical Christmas helped to 
make of him the man he grew to be. 

Monroe was not quite nineteen when, in the winter 
campaign of 1776-77, he saw American affairs sink to 
their lowest depth. Colonel Weedon wrote home to 
Fredericksburg: "General Howe has had a mortgage 
on the rebel army for some time, but has not yet fore- 
closed it." In a letter to his brother Augustine, Wash- 
ington was equally frank : " If every nerve is not strained 
to recruit the army with all possible expedition, I think 
the game is nearly up." Again he wrote: "Could any- 
thing but the Delaware River have saved Philadel- 
phia?" Then, too, "unluckily for himself, but luckily 
for the United States," Charles Lee had just been taken 
by the enemy. Disasters, mixed with a few blessings 
that looked like disasters, multiplied. 

Keen was the bite of oncoming winter; ragged were 
the regimentals of the Virginians, Delawareans and 
Pennsylvania riflemen witli whom Monroe marched; 

88 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 89 

and shoeless the feet of many among them as they 
trod the frozen roads or forded the icy streams. " With 
a handful of men," wrote Thomas Paine," we sustained 
an orderly retreat of nearly a hundred miles, brought 
off our ammunition, all our field pieces, the greatest 
part of our stores and had four rivers to pass. None 
can say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were 
three weeks in performing it, that the country might 
have time to come." Many recruits did come to the 
rescue, such as the gallant and efficient Philadelphia 
Associators, under Cadwalader, and the Pennsylvania 
Flying Camp, under Ewing; but many faint-hearts 
also fell out, for the militia was not to be depended on 
in such cutting cold weather, with a confident enemy 
close at their heels. Then, too. Congress had retired 
from Philadelphia to Baltimore. That retirement, 
that flight, "struck a damp on ye spirits of many." 

Washington, for his part, had no thought of giving 
in, but if forced to abandon Philadelphia, his imagina- 
tion pictured for him an ever-lengthening line of retreat 
along the Blue Ridge as far south as old Massanutton 
Mountain on the Shenandoah. "My neck does not 
feel as though it was made for a halter," said he; "we 
must retire to Augusta Coirnty in Virginia." "Great 
Augusta" it was well called; for it stretched through 
its wildernesses as far as the Mississippi River. At 
times he faced about, and turned back, as if inviting a 
fight. He had lost nearly half his troops; five thou- 
sand were gone; hardly more than five thousand 
remained. 

As for the enemy, Howe could muster thirty thou- 
sand all told, though but twelve thousand were in pur- 
suit. Cornwallis asked Howe^s permission to attack 
and annihilate the rebels; but Howe wished to be up 
to take part in the annihilation. His brother. Lord 
Howe, and he were issuing placatory proclamations. 
Sir William joined Cornwallis on December 6. With 
him was Major-General James Grant, in whose brigade 
was a formidable contingent of Hessian mercenaries — 



40 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

the Grenadier Regiment Rail, the Fusilier Regiment 
von Lossberg and the Fusilier Regiment von Kny- 
phausen. Such was the army that foUowed confidently, 
if tardily, on Washington's trail, rebuilding broken 
bridges as it came. 

One soldier of the American rear-guard was Captain 
Alexander Hamilton, of the New York Provincial 
Artillery. "Erect and steady in gait," he had," a small, 
lithe figure instinct with life ... a bright ruddy com- 
plexion; light-colored hair; a mouth infinite in expres- 
sion, its sweet smile being most observable and most 
spoken of; eyes lustrous with deep meaning and reflec- 
tion, or glancing with quick canny pleasantry." ^ 
The mouths of his cannon may not have had " infinite 
expression," but they barked effectively at the British 
van when it failed to keep its distance. Hamilton's 
battery, indeed, " was a model of discipline, its captain 
a mere boy with small, slender and delicate frame, 
who with cocked hat pulled down over his eyes, and 
apparently lost in thought, marched beside a cannon, 
patting it every now and then as if it were a favorite 
horse or a pet plaything." That is as clear and clean- 
cut as a photograph; would we had as good a one of 
Monroe! We know that Hamilton was little; Monroe 
big and bony. We know that Hamilton had an intent 
look and brilliant smile; and we have reason to believe 
that Monroe's expression was much the same in youth 
as in later life — intent, like Hamilton's, yet less quiz- 
zical, less humorous, though quite as serious. Monroe 
must have met Hamilton on many occasions; but there 
seems to be no early record as to the relations of these 
two, who, by and by, would become rivals and political 
adversaries. 

Trevelyan says ("The American Revolution"; Part 
n, Vol. H, p. 77): "The junior officer in William 
Washington's company was a lad even younger than 
Hamilton, and not his equal (as indeed very few were), 

^ Extract from an account by Mrs. Catherine V. R. Cochrane, youngest daughter 
of General Philip Schuyler. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 41 

in intellectual endowments or in personal charm. And 
yet, if in the com^e of ages both their memories were 
to perish, that of Lieutenant Monroe would in all 
likelihood be the last forgotten of the two; for he was 
the James Monroe who in December, 1823, as fifth 
President of the United States, enunciated the policy 
which defeated the machinations of the Holy Alliance, 
and which deprived Spain of her American colonies. 
The famous doctrine, wherewith his name is indis- 
solubly associated, has been frequently revived and 
reasserted with marked eflFects upon the history of the 
world; and a very great deal more will have to be 
written about it before that history attains the closing 
chapter. As time proceeds, and the giant republic 
grows increasingly conscious of its strength, fresh oc- 
casions will arise or be made, for the use, or misuse, 
of the most formidable and far-reaching of all diplo- 
matic weapons; and during generations and even 
centuries to come the name of Captain Washington's 
subaltern in the Third Virginia Continental Infantry 
may still be a word of disagreeable import among the 
Chancelleries of Eiu-ope." 

Washington took his time in getting out of Jersey. 
He knew what he was about, thanks to the young 
Monroes of Weedon's excellent scouting company; and 
also to his spies, who were numerous and indefatigable. 
He left Princeton less than an hour ahead of the British 
van; and when this van entered Trenton, at four 
o'clock in the afternoon of Sunday, December 8, his 
last boatload of troops was just pushing off from the 
wharf. The Americans cocked their ears, too; for at 
the head of about a thousand Waldeckers and Hessians 
a brass band was playing — novel music for those who 
marched to the sound of the fife and drum. 

Counting all commands, Colonel Johann Gottlieb 
Rail, who had stormed "Cock Hill Fort,'* an outwork 
(rf Fort Washington, on Spuyten Devil Creek, brought 
into Trenton fifteen himdred and fifty men — the 
three regiments we have named, fifty chasseurs. 



42 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

twenty light dragoons and six pieces of artillery. Down 
stream at Burlington, fifteen hundred more mercenaries 
simultaneously went into winter quarters, these being 
under Colonel Carl von Donop. At Princeton was 
another post; at New Brunswick, headquarters of 
General Grant, was another. Altogether there were 
ten such posts. Grant was to command them. He was 
to persuade the population to turn Tory (which many 
of the weaklings did) and to acclaim King George. 
In the spring, Philadelphia was to be taken; and, with 
that, the war was to end. All hail his Majesty! Such 
were the sanguine expectations and plans of Sir William 
Howe, who, solicitous as to his own ease, wished to 
drink his Christmas punch in the city of New York. 
Let us hasten to add that, though Comwallis was 
bound for a still more gladsome town — London 
itself — he had a finer motive. His lordship wanted 
to see his lady who pined for him, it seems; and who 
died in his absence, if not because of it, two years later. 
But, at New York, favored quartermasters and com- 
missaries, with scandalous eflfrontery, were enriching 
themselves. They, too, would soon be sailing for Eng- 
land, where they meant to set up lordly establishments. 
As Christmas approached, all seemed to be going well 
for King George; and for the Howes, CornwaUis, Grant 
and the hireling Hessians, snugly ensconced on the 
shores of a rapid river with a few rebels, all a-shiver in 
their rags and wretchedness, scattered along in detached 
order at the numerous ferries. 

As soon as Washington had secured these passes of 
the river and all the boats, he set about the task of 
strengthening his army, and making the most of his 
strategical position. It was something to be behind a 
river, but not everything. Should thick ice form,^ his 
foes might cross at an unguarded reach of the stream, 
and fall upon him. Colonel Rail gave out that he was 
"waiting for a bridge of ice:" he would soon "run bare- 

^ As it did three weeks later, in January. "January 15th, 'the hearse with 
General Mercer's body was conveyed over the river on the Ice." — Stryker. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 48 

foot over the ice," he said, "and take Philadelphia/* 
Even should the spring find Washington, unstrength- 
ened, where he was, he could hardly hope to oppose 
successfully the advance of an army ten times stronger 
than his own. Worse than these things — even worse ! 
What if his Continentals should see bluer and bluer, 
and finally go home? His deepest distress was due to 
the most singular, the most unlooked-for, of adverse 
concatenations. Unlooked for it was, because in winter 
as a rule, with both armies at rest, men could go and 
others come without incurring imdue danger. By their 
terms of enlistment, many of Washington's veterans 
would be free to quit him at New Year's. Yes, it was 
written in the bond that they might go. And who 
could blame a shoeless, coatless, bedless man, broken 
maybe, sore to his very soul, with wounds and buffet- 
ings and manifold adversities, if, in his desperation, 
he should turn his back upon conu-ades equally heart- 
sick? 

But dark as the outlook was, Washington did not 
despair. He was the Stout Heart. He never worked 
harder. He rode, he wrote, he planned. His orders and 
appeals went far and wide. For one thing, he brought 
to his aid two considerable bodies of Continental 
troops — that of the capable and spirited Sullivan, 
with the remnants of Lee's division, and that of Gates, 
with four New England regiments., though the intrigu- 
ing Gates himself soon passed on down country to visit 
Congress at Baltimore. Not the least important of 
Wadbington's achievements, a little later, was his com- 
promise with certain regiments whereby they agreed 
to remain on duty six weeks longer. 

Other men than Washington were active too — 
General Philemon Dickinson of Trenton, for instance; 
and especially General Joseph Reed (who, however, for 
lack of full faith and fealty, compromised himself); 
Greneral Thomas Mifflin, General John Cadwalader, 
and Robert Morris, with their followers. This present 
m^iaoe was peculiarly a Philadelphia menace, and 



44 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

this period became the particular period, celebrated in 
local story, when that city sent out the choicest of its 
youth as sacrifices in a desperate cause. 

Washington's main rendezvous was in the riverside 
townships of Bucks. Here were Quaker farmsteads, 
Quaker mills, a few log cabins in stretches of forest 
and some lingering reminders of the days of the Lenni 
Lenape. Here was the grave of Tamanend — St. 
Tammany, a pile of stone. Here started the Walking 
Purchase, of bitter memory. Here were noble hills, 
ravines and sheltered spots for the troops — " swells, 
dells and stretches." Springs abounded. One of them 
fed four mills. Grist could be had, and much else that 
seemed good in the sight of the underfed soldiers. But 
there were drawbacks. Tories were numerous and 
troublesome. It was the region of the outlawed Doanes. 
Only that fall, a defiant sheriff at Newtown, the army 
depot, had called the court of Bucks County in the 
King's name. 

Along with General Lord Stirling's three regiments. 
Captain Washington and Lieutenant Monroe reached 
"Beaumont's" in Solebury, near McKonkey's Ferry; 
and their men were under cover, in wooden sheds, by 
the twelfth of December. "Blue mounts," the soldiers 
called " Beaimionts " ; and truly the high hills in the 
clear, winey air of winter must have seemed like out- 
lying parts of the great Blue Ridge. But Beaumont 
was a farmer, who gave his name to the place. It was 
not far from Jericho Hill, a high outlook, "from the 
top of which signals could be seen a long way up and 
down the river." Monroe, with his captain and Dr. 
Ryker, found quarters at William Neely's, at Neely's 
mill, in Upper Makefield. Monroe made friends with 
young John Davis of the neighborhood, who lived at 
Neely's, and who apparently became so fond of Monroe 
as to follow him into the next fight and look after him 
when he was hit. Davis and Monroe campaigned 
together on other occasions. Davis served under 
Colonel Richard Butler, in the famous Third Pennsyl- 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 45 

vania; and was a gallant soldier in General La Fayette's 
equally famous light-infantry corps. He was among 
the soldiers who helped to carry La Fayette from the 
field at the Battle of the Brandywine. All around 
Jericho Hill (so named from "Lying Jerry*' or "Pray- 
ing Jerry" Cooper of olden days), in cosy little valleys, 
were excellent farms, with roomy mansions. Stirling 
had one; Sullivan, one; Knox another — Chapman's. 
In a back room at Chapman's was Alexander Hamilton, 
sick of camp fever. His Captain-Lieutenant, James 
Moore, was sick in another house, Robert Thompson's; 
in fact, Moore died on the day of the Battle of Trenton. 
Greene was at Samuel Merrick's. He and his aides 
ate all the Merrick turkeys — a flock of them; as well 
as "the calf of the only fresh cow." They drank up 
the same cow's milk, and ate her butter. Lord Corn- 
wallis said that Greene, next to Washington, was " the 
most dangerous man in the American army;" and 
Farmer Merrick must have thought him so, too. Most 
likely, Monroe and his messmates played similar havoc 
at Neely's. 

On the sunny south side of Jericho Hill, was William 
Keith's. Here Washington and his aides were quar- 
tered; and here the chief, in secret conferences, heard 
the stories of his spies. One of these, a youth, who, 
in Trenton, had made believe that he was a simpleton, 
sent his report through General de Fermoy, com- 
manding the brigade at Coryell's Ferry. Another, 
John Honeyman, of Griggstown, in Jersey, who had 
served in General Wolfe's bodyguard at the Heights of 
Abraham, was known as the "Tory traitor." Thus 
reputed and thus posing, he was permitted to drive 
cattle into Trenton. He learned all that was afoot 
there, went out ostensibly after more cattle, cracked 
his cart-whip to summon hidden American scouts, 
whom he knew to be within hearing, and permitted 
himself to be taken, though simulating resistance to 
capture.^ Honeyman it was who helped Washington 

^ lliis famous Jersey spy lived to be ninety-three years old. 



46 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 



to gain a clear idea of affairs at the Hessian post. 
Thanks to Honeyman, Washington could see Trenton 
more clearly with his eyes shut, in the dark of his bed- 
chamber, than if he had gone in the sunglare to the 
top of Jericho Hill and turned his powerful spyglasses 
toward that distant town. Washington learned from 
Honeyman that the Hessians and British were by no 
means on the best of terms. As a concrete instance of 
unbrotherliness, an English officer had thrown a 
punch-bowl at a Hessian's head. Through Honeyman 
Washington acquainted himself with Rail's good and 
bad points. 

To the British, Rail, a veteran of the Seven Years' 
War, was "the Hessian lion"; as a rule, "Americans 
dreaded him. He, in turn, despised Americans." He 
was "brave, active, lively;" he took his time in his 
bath while his subordinates cooled their heels in head- 
quarters hall. He was "a good soldier but a bad 
general." Trevelyan says: "he was a brave, proud, 
stupid man." The fact that he was superciUous towards 
his "barbarous enemies" must have amused Wash- 
ington. It certainly pleased him to have his pouncing 
power underestimated at this time. We do not mean 
that Honeyman told Washington all these things 
about Rail; we do not know the secrets of the Keith 
house. But Honeyman had kept a soldier's eyes open; 
and ears, too; and either from him or others, Wash- 
ington gathered all essential information as to the 
pickets and as to the disposition of the Hessian troops. 
He learned that, for their coming Christmas cheer, tiie 
Hessians had provided themselves with trees, holly, 
eggnogg, punch, rumbo, hams and poultry.^ AH this 
was as Washington wanted it to be; but if Monroe had 
happened to visit Keith's house at the very moment 
when Honeyman emerged, what might he have seen? 

^ But according to Washington Irving ("Life of Washington/* Vol. II, p. 470) 
the Christmas feast had little to do with the American plans; **in truth, Washington 
would have chosen another day had it been in his power." He wrote to Reed: 
"We oould not ripen matters for the attack before the time mentioned, so much 
out of sorts and so much in want of everything are the troops under Sullivan.*' 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 47 

— a smiling general, dismissing a comitryman with 
thanks? Not at all. On the contrary, Washington 
appeared to be displeased with Honeyman — out of 
patience, indignant. Here, truly, was a traitor. In- 
deed, yes, a Tory and a traitor. Washington dis- 
sembled. He sent Honeyman to the log guard-house 
near by, whence the spy "escaped'* that same night, 
returning by roundabout ways to Trenton. He told 
Rail not to be concerned about the rebel army. It had 
gone to pieces. He need not fear attack. 

With the British oflf guard, Washington felt that he 
could hazard a stroke. Let the Tories toast the King. 
Let Rail drink deep. 

In this manner did Washington modestly take a leaf 
from the book of the great Ulysses. 

Being thus reassured, Washington planned his 
"hardy design" against Rail. Three bodies of troops 
were to cross at three places — General John Cad- 
walader's eighteen hundred at Bristol; General James 
Ewing's men of the Flying Camp at Trenton; and 
Washington, with the main body at McKonkey's. 
On the twenty-third, Washington wrote to Cadwalader: 

"Christmas day at night, one hour before day, is the time fixed 
upon for our attempt on Trenton. For Heaven's sake keep this 
to yourself, as the discovery of it may prove fatal to us. '* 

But Cadwalader was not able to cross; nor was 
Ewing. Why they failed becomes clear to us after 
reading the contemporary account of Captain David 
Dexter of Colonel Christopher Lippitt's Rhode Island 
Regiment.^ Dexter's company was at Bristol on 
Christmas Eve. The camp was a tented camp in the 
woods, with dry leaves for beds. Fires blazed in front 
of the tents. "In the evening a violent, cold, snow- 
storm began and continued throughout the night and 
the next day." Nevertheless, when darkness fell, the 
troops marched to the river bank. "Here we waited 
with shouldered arms several hours for the floating ice 
to open a passage for boats, in which we were to cross, 

^ Life and BeooUections of John Howland, by Edwin M. Stone, 1857. 



48 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

but the vast sheets of ice which came down so fully 
obstructed the passage that Greneral Cadwalader, our 
commander, ordered his division back to their tents. 
We suffered more this night from cold in the snow- 
storm, than on any we had yet eroerienced and when 
we reached the camp and shook off the snow as much 
as possible, and crept into our tents without fire or 
light, comfort or repose was out of the question. 
Cold — cold — cold; and that continually." ' This was 
on the tidewater; McKonkey's Ferry was above it. 
Captain Dexter, referring to McKonkey's, adds: **The 
current of the river there, being stronger, swept the 
floating ice so as not greatly to obstruct the passage 
of the boats." 

Let us see what happened at McKonkey's Ferry: 
Chi the day Washington wrote his appeal to, Cadwalader, 
he picked out the watchword for use in the night 
attack. It was Patrick Henry's "Victory or Death." 
"Tom Paine's Crisis" was read aloud to^the troops: 

*' These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier 
and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service 
of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and 
the thanks of man and woman. " 

On Christmas Eve, the Chief supped with Greene 
at Merrick's. One does not read in the Jericho Hill 
traditions that there was a single turkey-bone left to 
dck, but no doubt the hickory-logs glowed, and Greene, 
iullivan, Mercer, Stirling, Knox and other trusted 
oflBcers who were to participate in the coup de main^ 
conferred with the Chief. That there might be no 
listeners, the whole family was sent away. When the 
council dispersed, each oflBcer understood that Wash- 
ington meant to drive through, come what might. 

Carrington says: "There were young volunteers 
from PhUadelphia in that conmiand, going forth for 
the first time to study war. There were nearly ragged 
and shoeless veterans who had passed such storms 
and the storms of war before. Stark of Breed's Hill 
was there. Glover, the man of Marblehead, a hero of 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 49 

the Long Island retreat, and Webb and Scott, and 
William Washington and James Monroe were there. 
Brain and courage, nerve and faith were there." ^ 

Monroe was one of the first, if not the very first, 
to cross into Jersey. General W. W. H. Davis, of 
Doylestown, talked with many old-timers of the river 
townships, some of whom like Coryell of Coryell's 
Ferry" * had known Monroe in their youth. General 
Davis says: "Lieutenant Monroe, with a piece of 
artillery, was sent across the river to the Pennington 
road» but joined the army in the march to Trenton 
the next morning." 

The main body of twenty-four himdred men, 
with eighteen guns, assembled a mile inland from 
McKonkey's, as soon as the day began to darken, 
and marched to the rendezvous of the Ferry. 

Every man in the ranks carried three days' rations 
and forty rounds of ammunition. Each brigade had two 
guides. Each officer's watch was set by Washington's. 
Profound silence was enjoined. "No man," ran the 
orders, "is to quit his ranks on pain of death." There 
was a trail of blood on the frozen groimd, so poorly 
were some of the soldiers shod. The riflemen of the 
First Pennsylvania were barefooted. They were bri- 
gaded with tiie regiment to which Monroe was attached. 
Mention is made by General James Wilkinson, in his 
Memoirs, of this bloody trail. In fact, he gives a real- 
istic account of the whole scene prior to the crossing.* 
He had accompanied Gates to Philadelphia. That 
city was in gloom; Gates was in gloom; Wilkinson was 
sent by Gates with a gloomy letter to Washington. 
Wilkinson says: 

^I was on horseback early that next morning, and reached 
Newtown about two o'clock. On my arrival there I discovered, 
to my surprise, that General Washington had moved his head- 
quarters to that place and marched with the troops in that neigh- 

1 Battles of the American Revolution, by H. B. Carrington, 1876. 

* Long yean after, Lewis S. Coryell was a welcome visitor at the White House. 

* Mcmoin of My Own Times, by General James Wilkinson; 8 vols.. Vol L 

pp. iir7-88. 



50 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

borhood; From Colonel Harrison, the (xeneral's Secretary, who 
had been left in charge of his papers, I received the necessary 
directions, and proceeded in quest of the troops, whose route was 
easily traced, as there was little snow on the ground, which was 
tinged here and there with blood from the feet of the men who 
wore broken shoes. I got up with my brigade near McKonkey's 
Ferry about dusk, and, inquiring for the Commander-in-Chief, 
was directed to his quarters, where I found him alone, with his 
whip in his hand, preparing to mount his horse, which I perceived 
as I entered. 

*'When I presented the letter to him, before receiving it, he 
exclaimed with solemnity : 'What a time is this to hand me letters!' 
I answered that I had been charged with it by General Gates. 
*By General Gates! Where is he?' *I left him this morning in 
Philadelphia.' 'What was he doing there?' 'I understood him that 
he was on. his way to Congress.' He earnestly repeated, 'On his 
way to Congress!' then broke the seal, and I made my bow and 
joined General St. Clair on the bank of the river. 

"Boats were in readiness, and the troops began to cross about 
sunset, but the force of the current, the sharpness of the frost, 
the darkness of the night, the ice whidi made during the operation, 
and a high wind, rendered the passage of the river extremely 
difficult; and but for the stentorian lungs, and extraordinary 
exertions of Colonel Knox, it could not have been effected in season 
for the enterprise. " 

It was a never-to-be-forgotten scene — this action- 
picture by the ferry, with its ice-laden breadth of 
dark and menacing water a thousand feet across, its 
fleet of boats, its multitudes of men, its anxious officers 
and those suggestions of dramatic possibility in the 
way of rising storm and bloody battle. 

The boats had just come down on the swift current 
from their tree-screened hiding-place at Malta Island, 
in Knowles' Cove, two miles above. They were of the 
build known as the Durham — freight boats, between 
thirty and forty feet long, used to fetch iron ore from 
upstream and to carry merchandise. Pointed, bow 
and stern, these black, canoe-like craft were manned 
by crews of five; and were steered at either end with 
adjustable oars. Not only did numerous local water- 
men lend a hand in managing the boats, but there was 
a regular pontoon-corps. This was made up of Captain 
Joseph Moulder's Philadelphia longshoremen — eighty- 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 51 

two young riggers and shipmasters, strong lads and 
willing; but, dbiefly of Colonel John Glover's well- 
disciplined Marblehead regiment of hardy sea-bred 
feUows, clad in blue round short jackets and loose 
short trousers. Small of stature, brisk, Glover was 
full of spirit. 

Washington called for a good steersman. Captain 
John Blount of Portsmouth, N. H., responded^ and 
was told to take the helm of the first boat. Then 
other boats followed, bearing the men of Stephen's 
brigade. Once across, these formed in a semi-circle 
to protect the landing-place. Washington dismounted, 
and stood with intent look, watching the struggle 
with the floating ice and with the dark, swift, menacing 
flood. Luck seemed against him; yet conditions in his 
reach of the river were better than either above or 
below. Many have since said that Providence parted 
the ice for him.* 

Washington himself boarded a boat, and followed 
the men of Stephen's brigade. His aides were with 
him. Having reached the Jersey shore, he stood at the 
landing and watched the slow disembarkation of the 
other troops. More than once he said to them as they 
stepi>ed ashore: "I hope you will fight like men." 
He had chosen twelve alert Jerseymen to march with 
the army as guides; and wished to engage twelve more 
to scout on ahead, on horseback, but only three vol- 
unteered — David Lanning, John Guild and John 
Muirhead. Washington showed no impatience. Wrapt 
in his cloak, he took his seat on an unused beehive, 
and sat there in silence. "The ground was covered 
with sleet and snow, which was falling; although before 
that day there was no snow, only a sprinkling on the 
ground." "It was as severe a night as I ever saw/* 



^Bambles of Portsmouth, N. H., p. 262. 

* Upitream much ice had formed five nights before, and now the current bore 
It down in clogging cakes — far less hummocky and formidable, however, than 
tkote ihown in the celebrated and much-loved painting, "Washington Crossing 
tkt Ddnware*" by Emanuel Leutze, who was at Dusseldorf, loolung out upon 
tkt drifting ioe-bkxsks of the Rhine when he put upon canvas his ideidixed scene. 



52 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

wrote Captain Thomas Rodney of the Delaware (Kent) 
militia; "the frost was sharp, the current difficult to 
stem, the ice increasing, the wind high, and at eleven 
it began to snow. It was only with the greatest care 
and labor that the horses could be ferried over the 
river/' Hail fell. It beat upon the evergreens and 
weighed down the branches. It beat in the faces of 
the men in the earliest stage of the march, but when 
they turned south it beat upon their backs. At mid- 
night the troops were still crossing; at one o'clock; 
at two; but, by three, the whole army, guns and horses 
as well as men, was over. 

Then Washington said: "Soldiers, now or never! 
This is our last chance — march on!" Other officers 
repeated his words, trumpeting them: "Now or never! 
March on ! " It was slippery work marching, especially 
on upgrade stretches of ihe road; nevertheless the 
troops passed "with a quick step in a body from the 
river up the cross-roads to the Bear Tavern." From 
the ferry to this point was a mile and a quarter. Three 
miles and a quarter beyond were the hickory woods 
of Birmingham. It was four o'clock, with six miles 
to go; and the troops were due to strike at five. They 
would be hours late. Fortimately the nights were at 
their longest. Daylight would creep but slowly over 
the hills. Stark led Sullivan's van. Presently Sullivan 
sent word to Washington, who was riding with Greene, 
that the arms were already wet. "Tell your General," 
said Washington, to the aide, "to use the bayonet and 
penetrate into the town. The town must be taken. 
I am resolved to take it." 

At Birmingham the troops halted to rest and eat. 
Here, too, they were divided. Half kept on along the 
lower, or river, road. This was the right division, 
under Sullivan. The other half was to take the old 
Scotch road into the Pennington or upper road; and 
thus "move circuitously to the north of Trenton." 
This was the left division, under Greene; and with it 
rode Washington, Stephen, Mercer and Stirling. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 5S 

Trenton was to be taken as with a pair of giant fire- 
tongs; and the arms of the tongs were now opening 
on the pivot at the parting of the roads. 

Captain Washington who, with Lieutenant Monroe, 
had scouted all night on the Scotch road, rejoined the 
main body about this time — just before day. They 
had been on the watch for the enemy's patrol, for spies 
and for stray horsemen who might give the alarm 
before the impending stroke could be delivered. Monroe 
had been on duty many hours, and must have been 
exceedingly fatigued. But with Captain Washington 
and his comrades of the Seventh Company he now 
found himself on the right of Stirling's brigade. As 
the brigades in the lead were to dash past the junction 
of King and Queen Streets, and leave it to Stirling to 
encounter the enemy there, Monroe would be among 
the very first in the real fight, as he had been the first 
to cross the river. 

It was now light enough to see on ahead; with two 
miles yet to march. "There, my brave fellows," said 
Washington, "are the enemies of yoiur country. 
Remember what you are about to fight for. . . . Press 
on!" He had caught sight of Trenton. It was now 
a quarter of eight. 

By the roadside, in a woodyard, stood a man with 
an axe. It was evident from his attitude that he meant 
to mind his own business. 

Washington hailed him. "Which way to the 
Hessian picket?" he asked. 

"I don't know," said the woodchopper. 

Captain Forrest of the artillery spoke up. '*You 
may teD," said he; "for that is General Washington." 

The woodchopper exclaimed : " God bless and prosper 
your excellency ! " Then, pointing to what the Hessians 
called an "alarm house," (house of Howell, the cooper) 
he quickly added: "The picket is in that house, and 
the sentry stands near that tree." 

Orders were given to dislodge the picket. One of 
the Hessian outguard at that instant cried: " Who is 



54 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

there?'* David Lanning, the miller-guide, who was 
the very van, replied: "A friend/' "A friend 
whom?" "A friend to General Washington." 

The whole picket ran from the alarm-house into ti 
road crying: "Der Feindl Der Feindl her oust herauSi 
("The enemy! The enemy! Turn out! Turn out!") 

They fired^ and ran; and then fired again, as soon , 
they had reloaded. At this moment, when Washingto 
with his sword raised, was giving his orders, a muske 
ball passed between his fingers, slightly grazing thei 
"That has passed by!" said he. 

Captain Samuel Morris of the Philadelphia ligh 
horse saw the Ueutenant of the picket-guard by tl 
roadside, weltering in his blood. He wanted to ai 
him, but could not halt. His Quaker conscience smol 
him. "Poor devil!" said the more hardened one 
hurrying on. There was a forward rush. Far bac 
along the road the American coliunn quickened i\ 
pace. As the soldiers of the left division thus brok 
into a run, there came across the fields a welcom 
cannon crack. In this way the right division proclaime 
its presence on the river road. Sullivan had take 
the yager picket-post. The Trenton tongs were closin 
on Rail's mercenaries, and would soon so clamp ther 
that escape would be impossible. 

But let us revert for a moment to these "Bras 
Caps," as the Americans called them. 

We have said that the Hessians were expected t 
carouse on Christmas day; and so they did. As fo 
Colonel Rail, says C. C. Haven,* "he was a brave 
jovial ofiicer, fond of music, parade, wine, hot whisky 
punch, and of card-playing. Stacy Potts, a Quaker 
who was his host, was no card-player and no Tory 
but a non-combatant, of course, yet good for a gam< 
of chequers or fox-and-geese with an enemy." Ral 
was over-confident, not to say reckless. He under 
estimated the enterprise of the "Yankee ragamufiSns.' 
" We wan t no trenches; we'll at them with the bayonets' 

^ In An Histoiij Manual. Trenton. N. J., 1S71. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 65 

• 

Again he cut short the speech of some one who sought 
to warn him: "^This is all idle! it is old woman's talk." 
"Fudge," said he to Major von Dechow, "these 
country clowns can't whip us." True, he sent out 
patrols; yet what he did was done not vigilantly but 
in a lax way. He drank and played cards all Christmas 
night. This was not at the Quidcer's, but at the house 
of Abraham Hunt, the rich merchant. There was a 
particularly jolly party in the parlor, so that when a 
Toiy spy from Bucks, Wall or Mahl, appeared at the 
street door, the negro porter refused to let him step 
into the room. The intruder might stand there in the 
entry, if he pleased, and write what he wished to 
communicate. He did so. It was, in fact, a notification 
that the rebels had crossed the river — a most timely 
warning. Rail, at that moment, was dealing the cards. 
He was having too good a time to permit himself to 
be disturbed. He thrust the note in his pocket. He 
said afterwards that if he had only read it the terrible 
thing would not have happened. But we cannot feel 
sure of that. Even if he had read the Tory's warning, 
it is doubtful whether he would have given himself 
any particular concern about it. Acting on a rumor 
that had reached Princeton, General Grant had warned 
him of an impending attack. Yes; and sure enough 
it had occurred on Christmas Eve. An American 
scouting party, out without Washington's knowledge, 
had foolishly fired on one of the picket posts. Many 
writers speak of Captain William Washington as the 
leader of the scouts in question. Statements such as 
this have caused some confusion and misapprehension. 
Gmieral William S. Stryker, whom Trevelyan calls 
**a skilled examiner of records," puts the mooted 
point under his spotlight, and we may well accept his 
conclusion. It is a good thing for us to thus get a 
"last word" on this; because if, ** Captain Washington, 
with seventy men," knocked at the gates of Trenton 
on Christmas Eve, it might be assumed that Monroe 
was with him. Burr, for political reasons, sought to 



56 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

minimize the value of Momroe's military services; and 
it is desirable, therefore, to make those services stand 
out exactly for what they are worth. Innuendo is 
harmless when the simple truth is told. Stryker^s 
conclusive passage ("The Battles of Trenton and 
Princeton," p. 121) is as follows: 

**The attacking party consisted of iabout twenty men of 
Stephen's brigade. History diflfeni as to who had command of this 
little force. In some cases it is given to William Washington, but 
he was not in Stephen's brigade. There is more reason to believe 
tiiat it was the company commanded by Captain Richard Clough 
Anderson of Colonel Charles Scott's regiment, Fifth Virginia 
Continental line. The subaltern officers of this company were 
John Anderson, first lieutenant; William Bentley, second lieu- 
tenant; Robert Tompkins, ensign. It seems that the party was 
scouting through Hunterdon County, without Washington's 
permission, and as a mere adventure drove in the picket, wounded 
six men, seized their firelocks and ammunition, and hastened away 
to join the regiment, which to their surprise was then crossing the 
river into the Jerseys. " 

Stryker re-enforces his statement with an extract 
from the letter-book of General Robert Anderson, 
hero of Fort Sumter, who was a son of Captain Richard 
Clough Anderson of the Fifth Virginia Continentals. 
In his memorandum. General Anderson tells of the 
brush at the outpost and of the rebuke administered 
by General Washington as soon as he learned what 
had happened. "I have frequently heard my father 
remark,*' says Greneral Anderson, "that he never saw 
General Washington exhibit so much anger as he did 
when he told him where he had been and what he had 
done. He turned to General S(tephen) and asked 
how he dared to send a patrol from camp without 
his authority, remarking: *You, sir, may have ruined 
all my plans, by having put them on their guard.* "^ 

At any rate the infatuated Rail regarded this as the 
attack of which he had been advised. Accordingly, 
his mellow mind dismissed all thought of winter thun- 

* The Battles of Trenton and Princeton, W. S. Stryker, p. S7S. See also C. C 
Haven^s Historic Manual, p. SO. Captain R. C. Anderson, though in a Virginia 
regiment, lived in Kentucky. Lars ^deraon of Cincinnati was another son. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE '57 

derbolts forged in the smithy of the pitiable Mr. 
Washington at his camp of ragged rebels over by Jeri- 
cho Hill. At six, in the morning. Rail was "sleeping 
heavily." At eight, his brigade-adjutant knocked 
frantically at his door. Rail rolled out of bed. In his 
night-clothes, he appeared at an upper window. "What 
is the matter? I will be out in a minute.** Soon there- 
after he was heard to say "My God, Lieutenant Engel- 
hardt, the picket is already coming in! Push your 
cannon ahead!" 

Now again we go back to the column with which 
Monroe was marching. King and Queen Streets con- 
verge in the shape of a sharp V, pointing north. The 
Pennington road brought Washington and Knox to 
the very point of the V. Knox at once posted Captain 
Thomas Forrest's six-gun battery and the battery 
under Captain Alexander Hamilton. Forrest fired 
down King Street; Hamilton down Queen. Things 
were soon in a roar. Smoke clouds arose. The spirit 
of the men gave great zest to the fight. Washington 
watched them. "His Excellency was pleased at their 
undaunted courage. Not a soul was foimd skulking, 
but all were fierce for battle." ^ Escorted by the First 
Philadelphia City Troop, he then rode to high ground 
near by, took post there, and directed the whole affair. 
The town was more than ever in an uproar. Fearing 
to trust their wet firelocks, many of the Americans 
were using their "pikes, spontoons and bayonets." 
"There were a few cannon shots by the Germans, and 
a little musketry." 



> An oflBcer on Washington*! staff says that the GeneraTs face lighted 
^p as soon as he heard the boom of Sullivan's cannon on the river road. **We 
could see a great commotion down toward the meetinghouse, men running here 
and there, officers swinging their swords, artillerymen harnessing their horses. 
Captain Forrest unlimb^ed his guns, Wa^ington gave the order to advance, and 
«e rushed to the junction of King and Queen Streets. The riflemen under Colonel 
Hand and Scott's and Lawson's battalions went upon the run through the fields 
on tbe left to gain possession of the Princeton road. The Hessians were just ready 
to open fire with two of their cannon when Captain Washington and Lieutenant 
Moiuroe with their men rushed forward and captured them. We saw Rail come 
riding up the street from his headquarters which were at Stacy Potts' house. 
We oould hear him shouting in Dutch: "My brave soldiers, advance!" 



6S THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

Knox says that the Continentals "entered the town 
pell mell." He adds: "The hurry, fright and confusion 
of the enemy was not unlike that which it will be when 
the last tnunpet shall sound. They endeavored to 
form in the streets, the heads of which we had pre- 
viously the possession of with cannon and howitzers; 
these, however, in the twinkling of an eye, cleared 
the streets. The backs of the houses were resorted to 
for shelter. These proved inefifectual; the musketry 
soon dislodged them. Finally they were driven through 
the town into an open plain beyond." Here they 
formed an instant. During the contest in the streets, 
measures were taken for putting an entire stop to their 
retreat by posting troops and cannon in such passes 
and roads as it was possible for them to get away by.** 
It is General Stryker who now tells of Monroe's part 
in the most brilliant episode of the battle — the dash 
for the Hessian brass pieces in King Street: 

"Lord Stirling's brigade, heretofore the reserve, waa now about 
at the head of £jng Street,^ and the demoralizing effect of the 
guns of the American batteries being noticed, an instant charge 
was ordered. Colonel Weedon's regiment of Stirling's brigade 
was in the advance, and Captain William Washington of the 
regiment, with his lieutenant, James Monroe, leading their men, 
made a quick dash down the street and took two brass three- 
pounder guns of the Rail regiment. Both officers were wounded in 
this exploit, the Captain being injured in both hands, and Monroe 
hit in the shoulder by a ball, which cut an artery. " 

It was the left shoulder, and the ball remained in 
it as long as Monroe lived. It is probably in his coffin 
today. Unless speedily succored, a man thus hit would 
bleed to death in a few minutes. "If surgical aid had 
not been promptly forthcoming," comments Trevelyan, 
"he might have died then and there; and his doctrine, 
which in any case would hardly fail to have been 
invented, would have borne some different title." 

These Hessian guns stood in the street near Rail's 
headquarters. Carrington says: "They had been 
partly manned and were ready to deliver fire," when 

^ King Street is now Warren; Queen Street is now Greene. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 59 

Washington and Monroe rushed upon the gunners 
and brought away the pieces. Though a buUet had 
gone through one hand and another shot had torn 
the other hand. Captain Washington ran into the 
house in pursuit of the Hessian gunners and captured 
them/' 

Joseph White^ helped to take the three-pounders. 
He wrote about it quaintly, thus: 

''Our advanced guard opened from right to left; we gave them 
four or five cannisters of shot, following then to their main body» 
and displayed our columns. The third shot we fired broke the 
azletree of the piece — we stood there some time idle, they firing 
upon us. Colonel £jiox rode up and said: 'My brave lads, go up 
and take those two field-pieces sword in hand. There is a party 
going, you must go and join them.' Captain A said: 'Sergeant 
White, you heard what the Colonel said — you must take the 
whole of those that belonged to that piece, and join them.' This 
par^ was commanded by Captain Washington and Lieutenant 
Monroe, our late President of the United States, both of which 
were wounded. 

"The party inclined to the right. I hollowed as loud as I could 
scream to the men to run for their lives right up to the pieces. I 
was the first that reached them. They had all left it, except one 
man holding vent. 'Run, you dog,' cried I, holding my sword over 
his head. He looked up and saw it, and ran. We put in a cannister 
of shot (they had put in the cartridge before they left it) and fired. 
The battle ceased. I took a walk over the field of battle, and my 
blood chilled to see such horror and distress. '* 

Can it be claimed that this quick action was in any 
way vital? Not at all. The surprise was itself so com- 
plete, so demoralizing to the enemy, so overwhelming, 
that the result would not have been very diflferent even 
if Rail should have got his guns at work, full blast, in 
King Street; and held on there a long time. "All the 
outposts were struck at once.'* Never was a well- 
organized stand established by the bewildered enemy. 
But the hottest spot was here in King Street; and it 
was William Washington and James Monroe who 
amothered the only fire that threatened great loss of 

^A Nmtn!dve of Events in the Revolutionary War, witn an account of the 
Bittlit of TVcnton* Trenton Bridge and Princeton, by Joseph White. 



60 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

life. Their dash in the nick of time hastened the 
victory. 

At this juncture. General Washington ordered a dis- 
charge of cannister. "Sir," said Captain Morgan, 
"they have struck.*' "Struck!" said Washington. 
"Yes," said Morgan, "their colors are down." "So 
they are!" said Washington; and at once spurred his 
chestnut-sorrel into a gallop, riding towards them. 

Wilkinson says :^ " I had been despatched to General 
Washington for orders and rode up to him at the 
moment Colonel Ball, supported by a file of sergeants, 
was presenting his sword. On my approach, the 
Conmiander-in-Chief took me by the hand and ob- 
served: *Major Wilkinson, this is a glorious day for our 
country,' his countenance beaming with complacency." 

He promoted Knox to be Major-General. Other 
oflficers were promoted on the field, including Monroe, 
who was made Captain for "bravery imder fire." 

John Habberton* speaks of Monroe as "an eighteen- 
year old Virginia boy who grew a great deal that 
morning." 

Some of the Hessians got away because Ewing was 
unable to cross the river and block the Burlington 
road; but close upon a thousand of the mercenaries, 
with all their arms and plunder, remained in Wash- 
ington's hands. The effect of the victory was a hundred- 
fold greater than the physical results might indicate. 
Beaten America was back in battle quite unbeaten — 
never to be beaten, in fact. 

Lord George Germain wrote: "All our hopes were 
blasted by the unhappy affair at Trenton." 

The Princeton story is just as thrilling as the Trenton 
story. One was the other's sequel, and each was equally 
brilliant. But we are only licensed to follow Monroe, 
who was under a surgeon's care — probably Dr. 
Ryker's. Let it be enough to say of Princeton, that 
Washington outdid himself in that stroke. Lord 

1 In lu8 Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 131. 
* In his^George Washington, p. ISS. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 61 

Comwallis thought he had "the old fox"; but 
Washington eluded him. At midnight, January 8, 
after the battle of Assunpink Creek, he brightened his 
fires and slipped away towards Princeton by the 
southerly road. He was not missed till morning. 
When, at an early hour, he began his cannon-fire, 
it sounded like " winter thunder in the British rear'* — 
startling, ominous! Lord Comwallis cried out: "Where 
can that firing be?" "My Lord,'* said Sir William 
Erskine, "it is Washington at Princeton." 

"When the army recrossed the Delaware into 
Bucks," says General W. W. H. DavisS "Lieutenant 
Monroe was taken to the residence of William Neely, 
the home of young Davis. He spent some time there, 
to recover from his wound, and was then removed to 
the house of Judge Wynkoop near Newtown." He 
could not have fallen into more friendly hands. The 
Holland Dutch Wynkoops, or Winekoops, were noted 
patriots — no better in all Bucks. Judge Henry 
Wynkoop, "the personal friend of Washington and 
Hamilton," was "a remarkably handsome man," and 
an important one, serving in the Continental Congress 
and in the First Congress of the United States. It 
was he who gave Washington his "Bucks county 
plough." His wife was Ann Knipers Wynkoop. Their 
daughter won Monroe's heart. She was Christine 
Wynkoop, but she was already pledged and so was 
obliged to reject the young Virginian when, after the 
war, he asked her to be his wife*. 

Captain Washington may have been with Monroe 
at this time; but, if so, it is not noted in the Bucks 
chronicles. We can imagine what a deal of talk there 

1 life of John Davis, by W. W. H. Davis, A.M., 1886, p. 16. Miller Neely, 
' *^ ^ — and a good American, lived to see Monroe President of the United 



States. Davis and Monroe kept up their acquaintance. Similarly his son, 
Major-General John Davis, Jr., a Congressman, commander of La Fayette's 
Moort and defender of Andrew Jackson, was Monroe's personal friend. 

This love affair is touched upon in "Vredens-Hof," a monograph, privately 
printed, 1009, by Dr. Julian T. Hammond, Jr., of Philadelphia. "\^ens-Hof. 
mult by Nicholas Wynkoop in 1739, is owned by one of Judge Wynkoop*s de- 
Blrs. E. R. Stitt, wife of Admiral £. R. Stitt, Surgeon-General, VJ&M. 



62 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

was in the Jericho Hill neighborhood about the battles 
of Trenton and Princeton. Before he left Keith's 
house, where he had been quartered, General Hugh 
Mercer, mortally wounded at Princeton, told Mrs. 
Keith of a curious premonitory dream of his the night 
before. He dreamt that a huge bear had attacked 
and overpowered him. This dream, with its seeming 
sequel, was on the superstitious Jericho Hill tongue 
for many a day. 

As soon as he had recovered from his wound, if not 
from his love affair, Monroe rejoined the army, which 
remained in winter-quarters at Morristown until the 
twenty-eighth of May. He was appointed "additional 
aid*' to General Lord Stirling. Thereafter he partic- 
ipated in the marches and manoeuvres of Washington's 
troops during the long period preceding the battle of 
Brandywine. 

In tiiat bloody clinch. General Stirling was on the 
extreme American right, well up stream, with only 
Bland's horse beyond. He it was whom the red-coated 
flankers first struck. He was rolled back over hill 
and hollow, and, along with Stephen's division, was 
obliged to give ground mile on mile. It was about four 
o'clock on the hot afternoon of the eleventh of Septem- 
ber when the right wing, composed of these two divi- 
sions imder Sullivan, was broken by the heavy pressure 
of Lord Cornwallis bearing down with the better part 
of the British army. The Third Virginia held on till 
both flanks were turned. Half of the oflficers and a 
third of the men were killed or woimded. Colonel 
Marshall's horse was twice shot. 

It was Trenton reversed. One may imagine the 
surprise, the deep chagrin, tlie humiliating predicament 
of Monroe and his comrades, outflanked and hard 
driven, as they vainly sought to retire in order upon 
Birmingham hill, with the hope and purpose of making 
a stand at the Quaker meeting-house there. But, 
before they could form in their new position they were 
again beaten back, and it was only the arrival of 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE es 

Washington, La Fayette and, finally, Greene, with 
fresh troops, that saved the day. 

As it is on record that he oflFered aid to the wounded 
La Fayette, Monroe most likely took part in the 
Birmingham meeting-house melee in which the Marquis 
was shot. Monroe's old regiment, the Third, suffered 
fewer casualties than some of the other Virginia 
commands; such, for example, as the Seventh, which 
was badly cut up. It was, indeed, a bitter, if heroic 
day. 

Not quite so bloody, and, certainly not so bitter in 
the estimation of the young Virginia oflScers, was the 
battle of Germantown, nearly a month later, on the 
foggy morning of the fourth of October. Yet, even in 
this fight, there was great chagrin among them because 
of General Stephen's blunder and the costly contretemps 
at the Chew House, which deprived them of the victory 
they expected and really deserved. Stirling's reserve 
division it was that made the fight for the Chew House; 
and that, too, with the greatest gallantry, under the 
eye of the Chief. Here fell Lieutenant Matthew Smith, 
of "Hackwood Hall," a brave yoimg Virginian, who 
volunteered to carry a flag of truce across the fire-swept 
lawn. Others equally brave led their men against the 
murderous musketry of the Fortieth British regiment, 
under Colonel Thomas Musgrave, who had seized the 
fortress-like, many-windowed stone mansion, holding 
it thereafter against all assaults. Though some of 
Monroe's friends reached Philadelphia that day, it 
was not as victors but as prisoners. 

Monroe now became a full-fledged aide-de-camp. 
He seems to have profited by the acquaintance and 
condescension of Stirling, who was a most likeable 
character. He was William Alexander, heir to a British 
title, claimant of millions of acres of Nova Scotia land, 
and lord by courtesy. He lived at Baskingridge, N. J., 
his wife being a sister of the distinguished Governor 
Livingston. Stirling was eight years older than 
Washmgton, and had been Governor Shirley's secretary 



M THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

in French and Indian times. He was tall, portly, 
dignified — a man of polish and of courteous manners. 
Small wonder the young Virginian was attracted by 
the prospect of serving as an aide to such an officer. 
In General Orders, issued at Whitemarsh, November 
20, 1777, a month before the establishment of the 
cantonment at Valley Forge, Washington appointed 
him a full-fledged aide-de-camp to Lord Stirling, with 
the rank of major. In the Valley Forge Orderly Book 
of General George Weedon, page 134, we read: "Lieut. 
John Marshall is by the Judge Advocate appointed 
Deputy Judge Advocate in the Army of the United 
States, and is to be respected as such. James Monroe 
Esquire formerly appointed an additional Aide de Camp 
to Major General Lord Stirling is now appointed Aide 
de Camp to his Lordship in the room of Major [William] 
Wilcox resigned, and is to be respected as such.'* 

Monroe was a member of Stirling's family until 
midsiunmer of the following year. He saw the inside 
of things at division headquarters; and also grasped 
the significance of what was going on at the Potts 
house during the Valley Forge encampment. It was 
Stirling who told Washington the raw, unflattering 
truth as to the Conway machinations, and thus, as 
Saflel puts it, "upset'' the Cabal. What a lesson in 
intrigue, in plot-hatching, was here for a youth who, 
by and by, would be obliged to use his wits against 
even such a one as Talleyrand ! Later, Monroe realized 
that he had made a mistake when he took service with 
Stirling, but as a junior, at his headquarters, he cer- 
tainly was in a fine school for the study of men. Stirling 
himself administered the oath of allegiance to the 
oflScers who had served under Conway. The oath was 
on a printed slip of paper, with blank spaces for name, 
rank and the like. The originals of these oaths are 
preserved today in the Government Archives at 
Washington, and constitute a precious set of Revolu- 
tionary autographs. 

Monroe had many friends in camp, Marshall among 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 65 

them. It was Attorney General Wayne MacVeagh 
who said of them : 

''As two Virginian youths lay sleeping in their huts that winter 
at Valley Forge, I wonder if any such forecast of their country's 
future, or any forecast of their own, came to them in their dreams. 
Of these youths one was John Marshall, who was destined to lay 
broad and deep the foundation of his country's greatness, and 
thereby assist to secure the glory and the blessings of free institu- 
tions to untold generations of men; and the other was James 
Monroe, who was destined to proclaim the truth that this whole 
American continent, from end to end, and from sea to sea, must 
be regarded by all other nations as dedicated to Uberty and to 
bequeath to us the duty of giving practical and complete effect 
to the noble and inspiring doctrine which bears his name. "^ 

Another young Virginian at Valley Forge was 
Lieutenant Philip Slaughter: 

''His messmates were the two Portersfields, Johnson and Lieu- 
tenant John (Chief Justice) Marshall. They were reduced some- 
times to a single shirt, having to wrap themselves in a blanket 
when it was washed; not one soldier in five had a blanket. The 
snow was knee-deep all the winter, and stained with blood from 
the naked feet of the soldiers. From the body of their shirts, 
the officers had collars and wristbands made to appear on parade. '^ 

But all was well when winter ended. Steuben had 
made the Continental Army over into an excellent 
fighting machine, so that, in spite of Charles Lee's 
extraordinary recreancy on the twenty-eighth of June, 
it did very well indeed at Monmouth. 

Monroe's part at Monmouth is indicated in a letter 
addressed by him to General Washington, at four p.m., 
June twenty-eighth. Stirling at that time "commanded 
the left wing of the army, as reformed by Washington 
after he had checked the retreat of Lee." "Monroe 
with his command," notes S. M. Hamilton, "had been 
charged with the important duty of following the 
enemy's movements and of reporting them to Lord 



^ Address of Wayne MacVeagh, in the Hall of the House of Representatives, 
at Washington, February 4, 1901. — John MarshaU, by John Dillon, S vols.. 
Vol. I. pp. 17, 18. 

' History of St. Mark's Parish, Culpeper County, Virginia, by the Rev. Philip 
Slat^ter, D J>., 1887. 



66 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Stirling and also directly to the Commander-in-Chief." 
Monroe says: 

''Upon not recdvin^ any answer to my first information and 
observing the enemy mdining toward your right, I thought it 
advisable to hang as close upon them as possible — I am at present 
within four hundred yards of their right — I have only about 
seventy men who are now fatigued much. I have taken three 
prisoners. If I had six horsemen I think if I co'd serve you in no 
other way I sho'd in the course of the night procure good intelli- 
gence w'h I wo'd as soon as possible convey to you. " 

Thus Monroe, barely out of his teens, had already 
participated in battles at Harlem Heights, White 
rlains, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Mon- 
mouth; and had borne a useful part in each. 



CHAPTER IV 
Transition Time 

The cannon of Monmouth soon cooled; but not so its 
passions. Some of the heat of that exceedingly hot 
day — a day of dust, of fire, of long-continued fury — 
got into the hearts of the American officers, who ever 
after were embittered against Lee^ because of his 
extraordinary, if not treasonable, tergiversation. 

Lee*s trial by court-martial began at New Bruns- 
wick on July 4, and lasted until August 12. The court 
moved with the army, convening successively at 
Paramus, Peekskill and North Castle. Did young 
Monroe dance attendance upon it? Its president was 
General Stirling, who, commanding the left wing at 
Monmouth, had added to his laurels by posting Car- 
rington's Battery in the very nick of time and at the 
very spot where its fire took a costlier toll than even 
a brave and determined enemy could aflford to pay. 
Unless Stirling released his aide immediately after the 
battle — a thing he would not be likely to think of at 
such a time, much less do — then it follows that 
Monroe may have become a handy helper in executing 
the numerous duties connected with the procedure of 
the court-martial. We are by no means sure of this. It 
is only in the concurrent data of the hour that we find 
warrant for the suggestion that Monroe witnessed the 
disciplining of this notorious and enigmatic character. 
But, when the Court found him guilty and when 

^ Thia eccentric man provoked more profanity than any other oflScer of the 
Revolution. How he made Washington swear at the crisis of the fight is well 
known. Alexander Macaulay, the traveler, met a "character** at Hanover Town, 
Va., whom he asked "where he had been" of recent years. "Been, sir? ^ihy, 
I have been all over the world; I have been in the American army, sir; I saw the 
British die with heat and fatigue at Monmouth; I saw that Danmied Rascal 
General Lee*s retrograde manceuvre; and have seen many strange things." — 
William and Mary C^iarterly* Vol XI. p. 188. 

07 



68 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Congress broke him, why was Monroe unconvinced as 
to Lee's turpitude? On the surface, is it not rather 
remarkable that Monroe should have retained his 
faith in Lee while so many other officers, old and young 
alike, lost theirs? He had come under Lee's influence 
at Williamsburg; possibly on the Hudson; and cer- 
tainly at Valley Forge. It would not have been out of 
character with the older man if he had flattered the 
obscure youth — obscure, at least, prior to the capture of 
the brass pieces at Trenton. WhUe the court was taking 
testimony. Colonel Walter Stewart wrote of the defend- 
ant: "His complaisance to the officers is excessive, and 
he does everything in his power to gain their affections. " 

To speculate further, it may be that certain Vir- 
ginians, who were under the influence of Richard 
Henry Lee, defended the accused officer merely because 
of his name. Who but had the greatest respect for the 
Lees? True enough. General Charles, a soldier of 
fortime, an eighteenth century cosmopolite, as bril- 
liantly bookish as he was caustic of speech, was of 
British blood and quite un- Virginian; but Monroe may 
have been too mindful of Stratford and Chantilly and 
may have permitted his natural Potomac pride to 
influence his judgment. For a young man brought up 
as Monroe was, "Lee** was a name to conjure with, 
from whatever part of the world its owner came. 

But to many of the American officers Charles Lee 
was a double-dealer — a dastard, indeed. Why did 
he act so capriciously? Why did he dally? He would 
sell out America for a dukedom — this recreant ally, 
this false friend who made his vows to Liberty only 
that he might betray her. No, they had no patience 
with the man — not the least. Others were silent. 
They could not understand such misconduct. Still 
others spoke up for him — Knox, Greene and "Legion 
Harry*' Lee. "Some of the best patriot officers," says 
Sydney George Fisher^ "remained friendly with him 

^ The Struggle for American Independence, by Sydney George Fiaher» 8 voli.. 
Vol. n. p. 196. 




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THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 09 

to the last.'* SpeaJdng of Monroe's Westmoreland 
schoolmate who was made Captain for his soldierly 
services on Monmouth field. Senator Beveridge^ says: 
"Marshall felt that more was made of Lee*s miscon- 
duct than the original oflFense deserved. Writing as 
the chosen biographer of Washington, Marshall gives 
both sides of this controversy.'' "Girardin," adds 
Beveridge, in a note, "follows Marshall in his fair 
treatment of Lee." 

Moreover, there was another classmate in the case 
and, here it is that we find the most plausible explana- 
tion of Monroe's trust in Lee. This other classmate was 
John Francis Mercer.* Mercer was a year younger 
than Monroe. Like Monroe, a lieutenant in the Third 
Virginia, wounded at Brandywine, promoted to a 
captaincy rank from June 27, 1777, he had left the line 
to serve as aide-de-camp to Lee. He resigned in disgust 
on account of the finding of the court, to wit, guilty 
on all three charges of disobeying orders, unnecessary 
retreat, and disrespect to the Commander-in-Chief. 
Like Monroe, Mercer returned to Virginia, remained 
awhile inactive, studied law with JeflFerson, imbibed 
democratic-republican doctrines, re-entered the military 
service and, after the war, became distinguished as a 
statesman. In fact, as we outline Mercer's career, we 
seem also to be outlining that of Monroe. It is when we 
come to fill in the sketch that we realize how different 
they grew to be. Especially if we accept JeflFerson's 
opinion of Mercer, as given in a letter addressed to 

^ Tlie Life of John Marshall, by Albert Beveridge, Vol. I, pp. 1S7. 188. 

' Jolm Francis Meroer (bom May 17, 1769; died August 30, 1821) was a son 
of John Mercer of Stafford, author of ''Laws of Virginia,*' who had ten children 
by his first wife, George Mason's aunt Catherine; and nine by his second wife, 
Ann* daughter 6! Col. Mungo Roy of Essex. John Francis served under Lawson 
at Guitfoni Courthouse; and, after the disbandment of Lawson's brigade, joined 
Lafayette whom he followed to Yorktown. He studied law with Jefferson, and 
was in the Continental Congress of 1782-85. In the latter year, he married 
Sophia Sprigg of "Cedar Park," West River, Md., whither he moved. He was 
a delegate to the Federal Constitutional Convention. He refused to sign the 
Constitution because of its consolidating tendencies. He was in Congress, 1792- 
1794, and Governor of Mar^'land in 1801. His daughter, Mar^;aret Meroer, 
freed the slaves of "Cedar Park," and established m school for gurls. Sh« was 
known as "the w^^tiw^l* More of America." 



70 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Madison from Annapolis.^ But just now, so close were 
the ex-aides-de-camp that it would have been strange 
indeed if Mercer and Monroe had not talked them- 
selves into accord on the subject in question. 

But we know a little more of Lee than they did.* 
Since the time of Girardin* who, as a guest at Monti- 
cello took his cues from Jefferson, and since Chief 
Justice Marshall's day, additional evidence as to the 
mainspring of Lee's action has developed. In 1857 
there was discovered among the private papers of 
General Sir William Howe's private secretary a plan 
of campaign for the British army. The plan was dated 
March 29, 1777. It proposed a scheme for the conquest 
of the colonies. It was written by General Charles 
Lee then in British custody in New York City; and 
that, too, at a moment when Washington, in order to 
save Lee from deportation as a British deserter, was 
notifying Howe of his purpose to hold five Hessian 
oflScers as hostages for Lee. That Marshall, Mercer, 
Monroe and Washington himself were imaware of the 
existence of Lee's plan goes without saying. 

Lee was dismissed by Congress. He retired to his 
"Prato Rio" estate in Berkeley County, Virginia, 
where, with General Adam Stephen as a neighbor, he 
lived like a hermit in "a barn-like house that was a 
little more than a shell." There was a kitchen in one 
comer, a bed in another, books in a third and saddles 
and harness in a fourth. Chalk marks indicated par- 
titions. He was well supplied with dogs. He said that 
when men got to be as good as dogs he would be "as 
warm a phUanthropist as Mr. Adams himself." 

^ Dated April St5, 1784. Jefferson disliked Mercer's ambitions and intriffuing. 
The letter is partly in cypher. — Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Ford), Vol. m, 
p. 427. 

* See the Lee papers, 4 vols.. New York Historical Society Collections. These 
papers contain **The Treason of Charles Lee," by Dr. G. H. Moore, Librarian 
of the Society. 1868. H. C. Lodge, "The Story of the Revolution," Vol. I, p. 8«0, 
finds "a strong suspicion of treason clinging to him." Trevelyan, in "The Ameri- 
can Revolution,** p. 402, speaks of his * treason." 

* Louis Girardin finished Burk's History of Virginia aft« Burk had beoi lolled 
in a duel. Girardin wrote the fourth volume. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 71 

It is apparent that Monroe was brought up in no 
milk-and-water school. The controversies over the 
battles were not quite so bloody as the battles them- 
selves; but they were lively affairs, and left various 
preconceptions and prejudices which, as one fancies, 
influenced him during his political career. He had an 
excellent opportimity to see with his own eyes almost 
all the great characters of the Revolution. Lee was 
not the only celebrity with a seamy side. Much as we 
dislike to say it, candor compels us to confess that many 
a worthy had his unworthy habits — or to speak 
euphemistically, his weaknesses. One weakness was 
for the bottle. Stirling was no exception. At any rate 
he had his critics on that score. But, then, Stirling 
was maligned after he had helped to expose Conway. 
Even Lafayette, whom the plotters played upon, mis- 
takenly thought Stirling actuated by sinister ambition. 

As for Monroe, who was a serious-minded youth — 
he was twenty-one April 28, 1779 — he must have seen 
a great deal in army life in no way to his liking. If he 
had been gifted with a strong sense of humor, he might 
have enjoyed himself more. But he was not of that 
type. We have a few of his letters that date from this 
time; and they show that he was apt to think things 
over rather slowly and soberly. He seems to have had 
no trouble whatever with General Lord Stirling. 
Ardent as was his desire to remain at the front long 
enough to see the Revolution through, his good sense 
admonished him that as an aide^ he was in the wrong 
branch of the service. As for getting back into the 
Continental line, which he had left at one of the regi- 
mental re arrangements,^ that was out of the question. 

^ Hamflton was an aide and got along well for a while; but, by and by, even 
he was rebuked by his chief (whom on one occasion he had kept waiting) and 
resigned rather petulantly. Hamilton, however, was of the stuff of whidi heroes 
sre made, and again covered himself with glory at Yorktown. 

* OSoen were "retired," when at the various ** rearrangements" there were 
found to be more officers in the service than vacancies of their grade. For example, 
if there were only eight regiments, and ten officers bore the conunission of major, 
two would of necessity be retired. In case the eight holding the oldest com- 
m;ffi^p« desired to remain in service, the two youngest would be retired for junior- 
ity. — ;^Virgiiua Magaaine of History and Biography, Vol. XX, p. 279. 



72 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Thus convinced, he tried to become an officer in the 
State line; but here again he made a miscalculation — 
he had failed to foresee the difficulties that would trip 
him. He had the best of credentials. General Wash- 
ington wrote. May SO, 1779, to Archibald Gary: 

'*I very sincerely lament that the situation of our service will 
not permit us to do justice to the merits of Major Monroe, who will 
deliver you this, by placing him in the army upon some satisfactory 
footing. But as he is on the point of leaving us and expresses an 
intention of going southward, where a new scene has opened, it is 
with pleasure I take occasion to express to you the high opinion 
I have of his worth. The aseal he discovered by entering the service 
at an early period, the character he supported in his regiment, 
and the manner in which he distinguished himself at Trenton, 
where he received a wound, induces me to appoint him to a 
captaincy in one of the additional regiments. This regiment failing 
from the difficulty of recruiting, he entered into I^rd Stirling's 
family, and has served two campaigns as a volunteer aide to his 
Lordship. He has, in every instance, maintained the reputation 
of a brave, active and sensible officer. As we cannot introduce 
him into the Continental line, it were to be wished that the State 
could do something for him, to enable him to follow the bent of 
his military inclination, and render service to his country. If an 
event of this kind could take place, it would give me particular 
pleasure; as the esteem I have for him, and a regard for his merit, 
conspire to make me earnestly wish to see him provided for in 
some handsome way." 

Golonel Gary,i of course, could do little or nothing 
for Monroe. He did not get his field commission. The 
Legislature was not over-eager to authorize the raising 
of a regiment in which he was to be Lieutenant-Golonel ; 
but, it was mainly owing to the exhausted state of 
Virginia's finances that he could make no progress. 
Had he been a Lafayette perhaps he could have drawn 
enough troops together at his own expense to re-enter 
the service; but he had no considerable funds of his 
own. Marshall was a supernumerary; so was he. 
Marshall was back in the land of his lady-love; but 
Monroe had left a sweetheart behind him. He was 



^ Known as "Old Iron.** because he owned iron works — a small-bodied. 
6ery man. who, as Speaker of the Senate, took a leading part in the Revolution. 
He was the hero of Jefferson's dictator-and-dagger stoiy. He sided with Pendle- 
ton, as against Patrick Henry. 



THE LIFE OP JAMES MONROE 78 

unhappy — out of luck, despondent. In one particular 

— loss of place in the line, which he could not regain — 
his friend Mercer was in the same predicament. The 
best they could do was to enter the Governor's oflSce 
as aides. There was one advantage in the arrangement 

— they could while away the time in the study of 
law. Jeflferson had not practiced since 1774, but he 
welcomed the yoimg officers, both as students and as 
aides. 

Monroe found many changes at Williamsburg. The 
times were out of joint. Charles Campbell, the Virginia 
historian, calls attention to the fact that in the early 
part of 1779, "the demoralizing influences of war were 
making themselves manifest.** It was a period of 
money-making, stock-jobbing and selfish speculation. 
Washington noted the phenomenon with some alarm. 
April 22, 1779, he wrote from the camp at Middlebrook, 
Conn., "Alas, what is virtue come to — what a miserable 
change has four years produced in the temper and 
dispositions of the sons of America ! It really shocks me 
to thmk of it!" 

But even if distemper had seized people and public 
finances were low, Jefferson was in full activity. He 
was busy not only with state affairs but was remodel- 
ling the curriculum of William and Mary College. 
Both Jefferson and Washington disliked the idea of 
sending American youth over the sea. Monroe wanted 
to leave Williamsburg and make his way to France. 
Jefferson gave him letters ; but at the same time he felt 
that it was better to study at home than abroad.^ 
However, William and Mary was not to profit then by 
Jefferson's plans. The York-James peninsula was 
exposed to invasion; so the State Capital was trans- 
fenred from Williamsburg to Richmond, which seemed 



1 Washington wrote to Governor Brooke of Virginia: ""It ia with indescribable 
mrei that 1 have seen the youth of the United States migrating to foreign coun' 
tnea." Washington, like Jefferson, wanted a national university. Wiu Wash- 
ington* too, originated West Point Academy. See an excellent monograph by 
Herbert B. Ad^ns on William and Mary College in Circulars of Inrormation 
of the Bureau of Education, No. 1 (1887) pp. 11-89. 



74 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

a safer place than events soon proved it to be. The 
change hurt the college. At the same time it left 
Monroe in a quandary. Should he stay and study law 
under the celebrated George Wythe, or should he 
follow Jeflferson to Richmond? He wrote to his uncle, 
Joseph Jones* on the subject; and here, dated March 
7, 1780 is the reply: 

"This post will bring you a letter from me, accounting for your 
not hearing sooner what had been done in your affairs. If your 
overseer sends up before next post-day you shall hear the particu- 
lars. Charles Lewis, going down to the college, gives me an oppor- 
tunity of answering, by him, your inquiry respecting your removal 
with the Governor, or attending Mr. Wythe's lectures. If 
Mr. Wythe means to pursue Mr. Blackstone's method, I should 
think you ought to attend him from the commencement of his 
course, if at all, and to judge of this, for want of proper information 
is difficult; indeed I incline to think Mr. Wythe, under the present 
state of our laws, will be much embarrassed to deliver lectures 
with that perspicuity and precision which might be expected from 
him under a more established and settled state of them. The 
undertaking is arduous and the subject intricate at the best, 
but is rendered much more so from the circumstances of the 
country and the imperfect system now in use, inconsistent in 
some instances with the principles of the Constitution of the 
national government. Should the revision be passed the next 
session, it would, I think, lighten his labors and render them more 
useful to the student; otherwise he might be obliged to pursue 
the science under the old form, pointing out in his course the 
inconsistency with the present established government and the 
proposed alterations. Whichever method he may like, or whatever 
plan he may lay down to govern him, I doubt not it will be executed 
with credit to himself and benefit to his auditors. The Governor 
need not fear the favor of the community as to his future appoint- 
ment, while he continues to make the common good his study. 
I have no intimate acquaintance with Mr. Jefferson, but from the 
knowledge I have of him, he is in my opinion as proper a man as 

^ At this time Joseph Jones (born, 1727; died, in King George G>unty, October 
88, 1805) was in the Continental Congress, where he served from 1778 to 1783. 
He had been in the House of Burgesses, on the Committee of Safety and a member 
of the Convention of 1776 so lauded by Hugh Blair Grigsby. He was in the 
Convention of 1788. A Judge of the General Court, 1778-79, he again served 
in that Court in 1789-90. He was a Major-General in the Virginia MUitia. Two 
of Washington's letters were addressed to him. Judge Jones had endeavored 
to bring about the restoration of Weedon to the Continental line, Weedon having 
resigned because of a dispute with Woodford. See Writings of George Waahimrteii. 
W. C. Ford. Vol. Vm. pp. S04. SSQ. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 76 

can be put into the office, having the requisites of ability, firmness 
and diligence. You will do weU to cultivate his friendship, and 
cannot fail to entertain a grateful sense of the favors he has 
conferred upon you, and while you continue to deserve his esteem 
he will not withdraw his countenance. If, therefore, upon con- 
ferring with him upon the subject, he wishes or shows a desire that 
you go with him, I would gratify him. Should you remain to 
attend Mr. Wythe, I would do it with his approbation, and under 
the expectation that when you come to Richmond you shall hope 
for the continuance of his friendship and assistance. There is 
likelihood the campaign will this year be to the South, and in the 
course of it events may require the exertions of the militia of this 
State; in which case, should a considerable body be called for, I 
hope Mr. Jefferson will head them himself; and you no doubt 
will be ready cheerfully to give him your company and assistance, 
as well as to make some return of civility to him as to satisfy your 
own feelings of the common good. " 

What better advice could Monroe have had? It 
was his crucial time — many young men go through 
just such a period of uncertainty, of hesitation. The 
past closes in behind them; on ahead, nothing beckons. 
And, just here, another letter carries on our narrative 
for us. Hearing from a Berkeley man (Mr. White) 
that General Charles Lee was in that neighborhood, 
Monroe wrote to him under date of Ay lett's .Warehouse, 
June 15, 1780: 

** When I left you in Philadelphia, my wish and expectation was 
immediately to go to Europe; on my coming to Virginia, being 
under age, I found it difficult to make such disposition of my 
property as wo'd admit of it. I meant however to go this fall, 
and as I wish'd to go in the character of an officer, for that purpose 
I went up to HdQs, by Philadelphia (where I wish'd much to 
have seen you) to require from His Excellency and Ld Stirling 
a owlificate of my good conduct. This I meant to present to the 
Virginia Assembly and from them procure an appointment. His 
ezcdiency gave me the letter I co'd have wish'd and Lord Stirling 
abo treated me with gentlemanly politeness. What I have to 
expect from this Assembly is incertain, but as they have no interest 
in the appointment I desire, I believe I have no probable grounds 
to found my hopes on. I am retiring from them to my uncle's, 
B£r. Jones, near Fredericksburg (the Chief Justice of this State) 
where I propose staying perhaps this year. If it was my house, 
my dr Gr^eral, you sho'd make it yours, but at present I only 



76 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

ft 

live in expectation of it. I may however take the liberty with my 
unde to press you if you come that way to call and see me. ** 

To Lee, Monroe must have seemed an? misophisti- 
cated, well-meaning yomig man whom he could not 
help substantially, but whom he could flatter and 
thus encourage. He replied, July 18: 

'The good figure you make flatters my vanity, as I have always 
asserted that you wou'd appear one of the first characters of the 
country if your shyness did not prevent the display of the knowl- 
edge and talents you possess. Mr. White tells me you have got 
rid of this mauvaise honie, and only retain a certain degree of 
recommendatory modesty. I rejoice in it with all my soul, as I 
really love and esteem you most sincerely and affectionately. " 

Monroe wrote to Lord Stirling, September 6, 1782: 

"Believe me, I have always been happy to hear from you. For 
my part, till very lately, I have been a recluse. Chagrined at my 
disappointment with your State in not attaining the rank and 
command I ought, and chagrined at some disappointment in a 
private line, I retired from society with almost a resolution not to 
enter it again. Being fond of study I submitted the direction of 
my time and plan to my friend, Mr. Jefferson, one of our wisest 
and most virtuous republicans, and under his direction and indeed 
by his advice, I have hitherto till of late lived. Lately I have taken 
part in the civil line of the State and have been elected into the 
Legislature, and afterwards by the Legislature into the Executive 
Council of the State, which latter office I at present fill. I am happy 
to make my acknowledgments to your Lordship and to General 
Washington for your and his friendly letters to tiiis State in favor 
of my conduct while in your family, and without which I could not 
have expected among so many competitors, at my age, to attain 
in this degree the confidence of my country. "* 

Is it too much to say that, but for his disciplinary 
adversities in the unlucky and unhappy times when 
he lacked employment, Monroe could hardly have 
withstood the defeats and gratuitous knocks of his 
subsequent career? Though he did not get what he 
wanted, he secured something ever so much more 
important — the complete confidence and constant 
friendship of Thomas Jefferson. We have failed to 

^ For the Lee-Monroe correspondence, see New York Historical Society Col- 
lections, Vol. Ill, pp. 428, 429; there in another letter, long and rambling, from 
Lee to Monroe, pp. 480-482. See also Writings of Monroe, by W<fc^ni«Hftn, I. 



THE LIFE OP JAMES MONROE 77 

find any account of the first meeting of these two men 
whose names are so often bracketed; perhaps they had 
met at Williamsburg long before; but it was at this 
time that Monroe began to look to Jefferson for guid- 
ance. One was still untalked of; the other already quite 
a notable man not only in Virginia affairs but through- 
out the colonies. To some of us it seems singular that 
Jefferson should have quit the larger continental 
theatre of action for the smaller Virginia stage. But 
he knew what he was about. He was essentially a 
theorist, a reformer and an American into whose 
head had come the idea of democratizing certain out- 
worn English constitutional customs. His liberalism 
was apparent in his effort to bring about the repeal of 
the laws of entail, to hiunanize the criminal code, to 
lessen the evils and menace of black bondage and in 
other ways to relieve mankind of its curses and bur- 
dens, so that happiness might be pursued. Possibly 
he felt that in some cases, happiness might be caught; 
for as Tucker^ says, Jefferson possessed "a bold, 
sanguine, uncompromising temper," in contrast with 
that of Edmund Pendleton, who was "cautious, tem- 
porizing and conciliating." Between them, with the 
aid of other legislative committeemen including George 
Wythe, quite old, and James Madison, quite young, 
they had begun a revision of the laws of the state, 
improving them along lines of a freer, better himaanity 
and adapting them to the republican form of govern- 
ment. Chancellor Wythe, be it noted, played the part 
of constitutional Nestor in this governmental recon- 
struction. He was at the head of the first law school 
established in America — that of William and Mary 
College. Not only were Jefferson and Madison his 
pupils, but John Marshall sat at the old man's feet. 
At a later period Henry Clay did likewise. It is worth 
while, in passing, to emphasize this present conjunction 
of Wythe, Jefferson and Madison, who was well called 
the **FatJ ier of the Constitution of the United States": 

^ TheJife of Thomas Jefferson, by George Tucker, 1881, ft vols.. Vol. I, p. 107. 



78 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

and the significant upcoming of Monroe, who, still a 
student, and tarrying in Jericho, was destined to be 
greatly influenced by all three of the men we have 
named and to be associated in extraordinary degree 
with both Jeflferson and Madison. Modest as Madison 
was, he already had developed the power that accom- 
panies intellectual persistence; and, finally, it was by 
his unwearied exertions, "in opposition to the endless 
quibbles, chicaneries, perversions, vexations and de- 
lays of lawyers and demi-lawyers," that the early Jef- 
fersonian reforms were achieved. "For Jeflferson," 
saj'^s Dr. H. J. Eckenrode, "the Revolution only 
began with the Declaration of Independence. That 
was necessary that other things might follow — abo- 
lition of entail, reform of the criminal code and dis- 
establishment of the Episcopal Church."^ 

As yet, Monroe was not even in the ante-chamber of 
the JeflFersonian-Madisonian legislative formn. Before 
his entrance into public life he was to go on one more 
tour of military duty — not northward, this time, but 
southward. Jeflferson kept an anxious eye on the South. 
Trouble was brewing for him — dire trouble and humil- 
iation. He had made it clear that he was skilled in the 
diflScult science of imparting humanity to legislative 
acts; but could he govern.'^ Was he really an executive 
capable of holding the wild horses he must drive? 
One good year of his governorship was gone; another 
had come, and this was to be his year of humiliation. 
June 1, 1780, began this second year — this unhappy 
year; and in that month of June Monroe found himse^ 
in the Carolinas. 

Bancroft says. Vol. V, p. 384: "North Carolina 
made a requisition for arms on Virginia and received 
them. With a magnanimity which knew nothing of 
fear, Virginia laid herself bare for the protection of the 
Carolinas." Patrick Henry had made frequent draughts 
upon the resources of the State in order that he might 
feed, cloth e and arm the Continental troops.; In.spite 

^ The Revolution in Virginia, by H. J. Eckenrode, 1016. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 79 

of what Jefferson's enemies say on this score, he, too, 
left few stones unturned except such as were beyond 
his financial strength. But finances were particularly 
bad.^ Jefferson tried to raise and equip troops for the 
south; establish a gun factory, and arrange with the 
governors of North and South Carolina to hold back 
the Cherokees. There were many Continental super- 
numeraries, like Monroe and Marshall, who would 
have gone South with alacrity if their services could 
have been put to use. But Governor Jefferson was 
able to raise only about half a battalion of infantry to 
guard the prisoners taken at Saratoga and now quar- 
tered near Charlottesville. "Confusion reigned in the 
Grovemment," declares Eckenrode. Lax Colonial meth- 
ods had not been improved by the war. Patrick Henry 
had done what he could and Jefferson was doing all 
he could; nevertheless affairs were in disorder. Enlist- 
ments were for short terms. General Peter Muhlenberg 
was sent down by General Washington. He suggested 
a conscription law. Jefferson wrote encouragingly to 
Gates, but did not act with decision. So says Eckenrode, 
who adds: 

** Right here it is just to acquit Jefferson of neglect of duty. 
Pew more conscientious and industrious executives ever lived; 
he was always engrossed in the details of his office, and if he erred, 
as it clearly seems he did, he erred from want of judgment and 
driving power rather than from any lack of zeal or labor. His 
failure to arrange an adequate defense of the State was apparently 
due in a large part to two causes. Foremost came Jeflferson's 
penchant for strict constitutionalism, for strict construction ideas 
did not originate witli the Federal Constitution, but descended 
from the Colonial period. The Revolutionary War was mainly a 
war of strict construction patriots against broad construction 
imperialists. It was this exaggerated respect for the Virginia 
Constitution which prevented Jeflferson from using strong means 
of doubtful legality at times when it was more|expedient to:go 
than to reflect upon the exact order of the going. The other reason 

^Colonel William Grayson wrote. May 29, 1781 r "No money in Virgmia to 
Imij anything with and no credit.** Daniel St. Jenifer of St. Thomas wrote from 
Fliiladelphia to Weedon, June 5, 1781, that Grayson was indefatigable in pro- 
curing anns. — Weedon Papers, in the Library of the American .Philosophical 
Society, FhiUdelphia. 



80 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROB 



^T 



for his failure to do his full duty lay in his inability to grasp the 
principles on which military operations are successfully conducted; 
to the last Jefferson was a man quite without military understand- 
ing, a deficiency even more unfortunate when he became President 
of the United States than it had been when he was Governor of 
Virginia. Both these failings arose from the fact that he was 
a doctrinaire and not a man of action. . . . But as it happens Moses 
frequently occupies the place of Joshua."^ 

It is good to make a mental mark on the margin of 
this paragraph. We have in it a handy little key that 
unlocks page after page of history for us. We shall 
need it by and by, in this very book, when we come to 
tell of troubles that threatened to overwhelm the 
party of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. 

But, for the moment, we must check ourselves. We 
should hasten to remind our readers that this present 
period is long prior to the Jeffersonian era of which so 
much has been written . Monroe was still a junior — still 
inconspicuous. No doubt his neighbors at times asked 
him how his Trenton shoulder was; but some of them 
must have regarded his affair of the captured cannon 
as a trifle, since they themselves had lost fathers, 
brothers, sons, and, unhappily, were in a way to feel 
the bloody sword whistle in savage swirl above their 
own heads. The war was still on. 

It was Jefferson who made a Military Commissioner 
out of Monroe and sent him "to collect information 
regarding the condition and aspects of the army in the 
South." Twenty-two years old, a law-student under 
Jefferson, with means enough to live without pay from 
the state, he^bore his new rank of lieutenant-colonel as 
lightly as though still scouting in the Jerseys. 

Let us see what was on foot. The British plan to cut 
the continent in two on the line of the Hudson — a 
plan probably based on an older one devised by De 
Callier for the French Government — had failed with 
the bagging of Burgoyne and the balking of both Sir 
William Howe and Sir Henry Clinton. What had the 
King gained? Hardly a thing. What did he hold? A 

^ The Revolution in Virginia, by H. J. Eckenrode, Ph.D., 1916, pp. 196-800. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 81 

town or two — no more. What now? What would 
the British do now? Shift the war to the South. 
Sweep the Carolinas as with a bloody broom. Sweep 
Virginia, also. Sic Semper y indeed ! Let Madame Vir- 
ginia feel at her throat the iron weight of the dragoon's 
boot! Such was the new scheme devised by the King's 
ministers for the reduction of rebellious America. 

In May, Clinton took Charleston; and along with it 
Lincoln's whole army, except Buford's command which 
escaped northward only to be hacked to pieces at 
Wa£haws, near the North Carolina boundary. It was 
a bitter time for the Carolinas and a bitter time for 
Virginia. Her best regiments were in British hands; 
her militia was dispersed; the blood of many of her 
youth stained the sword of the ravaging Ban Tarleton 
as yet untamed by Dan Morgan; and there was now a 
constant black cloud in the south threatening death. 

According to Kapp, General Kalb, who was passing 
southward with the Delaware and Maryland troops, 
did not find in Virginia as many things to facilitate 
his progress as he had exi)ected. But, then, he was 
accustomed to European roads and distances and to a 
cooler climate. About the time Monroe reached Cross 
Creek, Kalb at the Virginia-North Carolina boundary 
wrote to his wife: "Here I am at last, considerably 
South, suffering from intolerable heat, the worst of 
quarters, and flie most voracious of insects of every 
hue and form." Flies bit him. Ticks beset him. 
Chiggers buried themselves under his skin. "My whole 
body is covered with these things," said he. But a 
little later, imder Gates in Camden battle, the stings 
of British bullets* were much worse for this brave and 
worthy old campaigner, who, unhorsed but undis- 

' **Am he AdvBixsed* he was ftruck by several balls and the blood poured from 
kirn in ftreams; but he still had strength to cut down a British soldier, who had 
actually eat a bayonet in his breast. Yet his hour had come. He was recognized 
fey his cpaulcAs. 'The rebel generall the rebel generall' was heard in the £iglish 
raaki. Mortally struck and bleeding from eleven wounds, he sank exhausted to 
the earth."— Life of Kalb, by Friederich Kapp, 1884. The Baron died at Cam- 
6m, tliree days later, August 19. 



82 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

mayed, tried in vain to beat back the victorious troops 
of ihe British Legion. 

Monroe, of course, was not a participant in this, or 
any other, Carolina fight. He was an observer merely; 
and that only for a short time. He wrote to Jefferson 
from Cross Creek, June 26, 1780, telling of arrange- 
ments he had made for a line of communication between 
that point and Richmond. This line had been found 
highly desirable — necessary, indeed — because of the 
want of intelligence concerning the Southern move- 
ments of the enemy, and the anxieties felt on that 
account. "Congress," adds S. M. Hamilton,^ "ex- 
pressed its appreciation by continuing this important 
line, established by Jefferson and Monroe, from Phila- 
delphia to Washington's headquarters. " Monroe wrote 
that Cross Creek was the place from which Governor 
Nash at Newberry and Baron de Kalb at Hillsborough 
got their intelligence. He had met Nash as well as 
General Caswell but had not as yet obtained the par- 
ticular information required. At the same time he had 
gathered and verified news from the south concerning 
Clinton, Cornwallis, Tarleton, the troops under Kalb, 
the militia under Caswell, and Rutherford and much 
else highly desirable to know. His long and important 
letter shows that, at twenty-two Monroe was sagacious 
in his outlook, orderly and accurate in his statements 
and frank in his admissions as to what he had failed 
to accomplish. While there is nothing facile or fine or 
impressive in the letter, it clearly indicates his trust- 
worthy and solid character. His Carolina reconnaisance 
was in every way creditable to him. 

Monroe's mission took him into war territory at a 
critical and romantic period. All South Carolina was 
being Toryized and terrorized except the sections in 
which now arose Francis Marion, Jethro Sumter and 
their fellow-partisans. Marion began to play " Swamp 
Fox" in the Peedee country that same summer; and, 
coincidently, there assembled those fearless frontiers- 

^ Writings of Monroe. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 88 

# 

men, scornful of kings, who, when October came, struck 
like lightning at King's Mountain. 

Moreover, Greene was on his way down from the 
North. It was Congress that had appointed Lincoln 
and it was Congress that had backed Gates; twice had 
Congress burnt its fingers ; so now Congress kept hands 
off. Washington sent Greene, who, with his aides 
Bamet and Morris, passed south in company with 
Steuben and his aide Duponceau. They "talked 
books" as they journeyed along the forest roads — a 
congenial company; and no worse as soldiers for being 
bookish. Cowpens was fought January 17, 1781; 
Guilford Court-House, March 15, 1781; Hobkirk's 
Hill, April 28, 1781; Eutaw Springs, September 8, 
1781. Monroe's old captain, WiUiam Washington, 
with the First and Third Dragoons; "Legion Harry" 
Lee, General Dan Morgan; Col. Isaac Shelby, Col. 
Ben Cleveland; the Seviers; the Campbells; Major 
"Hal" Dixon; General Griffith Rutherford, General 
Joseph Graham and General Joseph McDowell (called 
"Quaker Meadows Joe" to distinguish him from his 
cousin "Pleasant Meadows" Joe); Colonel Willie R. 
Davieson, fresh from his law books, tall, handsome, a 
knightly figure, "happiest when leading a charge" — 
these were some of the regulars and partisans who 
helped to save the Carolinas and the American 
cause.^ 

Comwallis claimed that he had vanquished Greene; 
nevertheless he drew off towards tJbe coast. He 
assumed that, if he should cut loose from his base and 
march into Virginia, Greene would follow him. But 
Greene's move was diametrically opposite — he struck 
out for the south, as CornwaUis struck out for the 
north. Bold indeed was Greene's strategy; but it had 

1 North Carolina, 1780-81, being a History of the Invasion of the'Cajolinas, by 
DaTid Scfaenck, LL.D.» 1889. Schenck defends the militia. Life of W. R. Davieson« 
by Fofdyoe Hubbard. Tarleton's Campaigns, 1780-1781. Judge J. B. O'Neall's 
Annals of Newberry District. Lyman C. Draper's King's Mountain. The local 
books stre laudatory of their own heroes as a ride; but they must be read to gain 
a true idea of the characters of the time. 



84 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

this drawback — it left Virginia open to bloody rapine 
and slaughter. 

Already four successive British waves had rolled in 
between the Virginia Capes — that of Mathews ; Les- 
lie's, 2500 men; Arnold's, 1600; and Phillips', 2600. 
Each had done great damage. If Arnold were not the 
worst of the invaders, he was the most hated. Traitor 
that he was, he burnt a warehouse of tobacco at every 
smoke. But Washington sent, first, Greneral Peter 
Muhlenberg; then. Baron Steuben; then the Marquis 
de La Fayette with 1200 Continentals, supported by 
Wayne with 1000. ^ 

It is hard to indicate just what Monroe did in the 
way of soldiering after his return from North Carolina. 
Once he is reported "absent in the field.'* His old 
commander, Weedon, at Fredericksburg, was one of the 
busiest of the State's defenders. Another and still 
better defender was General Thomas Nelson, Jr., who 
was quartered at Williamsburg. Though Richard 
Henry Lee complained, in a letter to Weedon, of a 
"terrible want of all things — arms, cavalry, ammuni- 
tion, " Jefferson was still true to the Continent, sending 
half the lead from the lead-mines for use in the Caro- 
linas. He was doing the best he could for Virginia and 
for her neighbors. The Weedon Papers ^ show clearly 
how anxious the average planter was to play a man's 
part, whatever the cost. R. H. Lee, writing from 
Westmoreland, recommended "the bearer, Mr. John 
Monroe" to Weedon's kind attention and asked for 
him "a position in the army more worthy of his past 



services. " 



In fibtie, these letters to and from Weedon show that 



^ Calendar of the Correspondence relating to the American Revolution of 
Bri^dier-General George Weedon. Hon. Richard Henry Lee, Hon. Arthur Lee and 
Ma^or-General Nathanael Greene, in the Library of Uie American PhUosophical 
Society, 1900. There are letters from Muhlenberg, Steuben,^Thonias Nelson, Jr., 
and John A. Washington, Judge Bushrod's father. 

General Weedon's letters, mostly in his own hand, were presented throu^ 
Dr. James Mease, to the American rhilosophical Society, by Colonel Hiu^ Meroer* 
of Fredericksburg, aonol Greneral Hugh Mercer and a nephew of General Weedon'i 
wife. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 85 

there was going on in Monroe's country at that time 
a great deal more than one gathers from reading the 
general histories. Not only was "the Marquis in want 
of vinegar, bacon and shoes," but Weedon begged for 
him "a quarter cask of wine/' 

If in his Virginia campaign, Lafayette met Monroe 
there seems to be no record of it. Together at Brandy- 
wine, and good friends years after, they now appear to 
have ridden on roads apart. Campbell, in teUing of 
Col. John Bannister of Battersea, near Petersburg, 
(son of the botanist), lieutenant-colonel under General 
Robert Lawson says: "The two other Colonels in the 
brigade were John Mercer, afterwards Governor of 
Maryland, and James Monroe, subsequently President 
of the United States. But Lawson's corps was dissolved 
when Leslie retired from Virginia, and thus the horse 
conmianded by Colonel Bannister was lost to the state 
when cavalry was pressingly required." 

But in spite of all that could be done either by the 
Virginia authorities or by the resourceful and elusive 
La Fayette (who was but a year older than Monroe) 
the Comwallis-Tarleton tornado, sweeping up from 
the south, cut a wide swath. La Fayette adroitly kept 
out of the way, biding his time till Wayne should join 
him with a thousand seasoned troops. The storm, he 
knew, would spend itself. 

It was Jefferson who was out of luck. He was in the 
saddle day and night, seeking to save the State's stores 
as well as his family. But Simcoe drove Steuben from 
Point of Forks, confluence of the Fluvana and Riviana, 
and burnt the stores, while Tarleton spurred off on a 
raid of some eighty-odd miles into Albemarle in search 
of Jefferson and ihe Legislature. Indeed, the British 
dragoons chased through Virginia as on a grand hunt. 
Jefferson, at Monticello, with ten minutes warning, 
got away by virtue of a crosspath, a swift horse and a 
shielding woods on the mountain side. The honorable 
legislature likewise escaped, passing with more haste 
tlum dignity from Charlottesville to Staunton beyond 



80 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

the Blue Ridge. Com and cattle were taken; plate and 
precious things; and as many as 30,000 blacks were lost 
to their masters. Tucker tells us that 27,000 of them 
died of smallpox and camp-fever. 

To Jeflferson this contretemps was tragic in the 
extreme. Tragic it was, sure enough; but there was no 
reason why he should have felt so excessively humili- 
ated as to go into retirement at "Poplar Forest" — his 
lesser Monticello, an octagonal brick dwelling by the 
Blue Ridge. His term as Governor had ended two days 
before Tarleton tried to seize him; and now Gen. 
Thomas Nelson, Jr., was in the executive chair. 
Jefferson, it seems, was hurt by a fall from his horse. 
Moreover he had plunged into the writing of his 
"Notes on Virginia" that he might oblige M. de 
Marbois, who had asked him all sorts of questions 
about the State. These were his excuses for making a 
hermit of himself in the forest depths of Bedford. His 
real reason was a bruised heart — a deep disgust, the 
revulsion of a sanguine man, who, leading his fellows 
in pursuit of statutory happiness, had come upon a 
situation undreamt of in his philosophy. Even the 
news from Yorktown, which reached him before the 
leaves grew red, did not purge him of his gall. Along 
with Adams, Franklin, Jay and Laurens, he was named 
as a Minister Plenipotentiary to negotiate a treaty with 
Great Britain; but there were charges against him 
before the Legislature, so he decUned to leave Virginia 
while they were pending. It is true George Nicholas, 
who had acted impulsively in bringing the charges, 
apologized to Jefferson ; nevertheless our Achilles sulked 
in his octagon. 

Monroe — who had written Jefferson a long letter 
dated Richmond, September 9, 1780, in which he 
thanked him for various kindnesses, expressed his 
desire to serve the State, "like many worthy Republi- 
cans," without compensation; and declared that, 
though he did not wish to go out of the State with 
Lawson, he would join his command should it remain 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE S7 

in Virginia — now again addressed him. We begin to 
make note of a certain steadiness and fidelity in Monroe. 
With him, talk against a man like Jefferson went in 
one ear and out at the other. But he was not afraid to 
speak his mind — even to rebuke so great a one as 
Jefferson, who promptly responded. 

Of Jefferson's letters to Monroe more than a himdred 
are in print, as against many more than two hundred 
to Madison. In this first Monroe letter, dated Monti- 
cello, May 20, 1782, Jefferson warms up to the yoimg 
friend and follower who was not afraid to be frank. 
Monroe's rebuke and admonition were couched in 
terms of excusable eulogy. The people, he wrote, have 
"frequently elected you ... to please you, but now 
they have called you forth into public oflSce to serve 
themselves." That phrase challenged the attention of 
the philosopher who used it as a sort of text when he 
sent his reply. His letter is at least a thousand words 
long. He is extremely dubious as to "the right of the 
State to make a man serve it whether he wish to do so 
or no. " " K we are made in some degree for others, yet 
in a greater are we made for ourselves. " "It were con- 
trary to feeling and indeed ridiculous to suppose that 
a man had less right in himself than one of his neighbors 
or indeed all of them put together." One smiles. 
What a far cry from that unsophisticated yesterday to 
this ribald and unphilosophicaJ today! But Jefferson 
was writing to a young man of whom he thought a 
great deal — a disciple capable of subtleties. He could 
not pocket his pride. He was still sore, still nursing his 
grand grudge; but Monroe's mixed bolus of bitter- 
sweet was the very restorative he needed. His re- 
entrance into public life was retarded by Mrs. Jefferson's 
death, and by other untoward events, but he would 
have gone abroad as a peace commissioner if Congress 
had not withdrawn the appointment. For one thing, 
as far as Monroe was concerned, his friendship was 
fixed. We are assured that Jefferson "invited Monroe 
to join him in France and become a member of his 



88 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

household there. '^ And another matter that was fairly 
well settled by this time was Monroe's future calling. 
His own bent, his uncle's encouragement, his precep- 
tor's infectious zeal for governmental betterment caused 
him to look upon hiinself as destined for a political 
career. 



CHAPTER V 
"No Hoop fob the Barrel" 

Monroe began his political career in 1782. He was 
twenty-four years old. He was elected in King George 
County to the Virginia Assembly, thanks to Washing- 
ton's letter about him to Colonel Archibald Cary. 
Monroe acknowledged his indebtedness to Washington 
in a letter dated Richmond, August 15, 1782: '*The 
introduction you gave me some time since . • • 
although it bailed me in that instance, has availed me 
in another line." It did not help him to a seat in the 
saddle but it helped him to a seat in the House of 
Burgesses. He promised to so conduct himself as to 
give Washington no cause for regret in having done 
him such a good turn. 

Shortly after his arrival in Richmond, Monroe was 
chosen by the Assembly to serve as a member of the 
Executive Council. Madison, now in Congress, had 
so served. Benjamin Harrison, a conservative, who 
had succeeded Thomas Nelson, Jr., also a conservative, 
was then Governor. It was a time of reaction, of a 
return to conservatism. Even R. H. Lee and Patrick 
Henry, who were rivals for political leadership, became 
less liberal. According to Albert J. BeveridgeS the 
Virginia Legislature, during these years, "was not a 
body to inspire respect. '* Madison was disgusted with 
"the temper of the Legislature, and the wayward 
coiurse of its proceedings." There was confusion in the 
revenue department. The method of drawing bills 
was bad. Marshall was surprised that "gentlemen 
cannot dismiss their private animosities, but will bring 
them in the Assembly." "Our Assembly," wrote 

> In his Life of John Marshall, Vol. I, pp. 205-818. Senator Beveridge has 
nnmaoiu references to Monroe in the four volumes of his illuminating work. 

89 



90 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Washington, "has been employed chiefly in rectifying 
the mistakes of the last and committing new ones for 
emendation at the next." He wrote to La Fayette 
that Virginia "was about to pass some of the most 
extravagant and preposterous edicts . . . that ever 
stained the leaves of a legislative code." These lapses 
on the part of the public men of Virginia, reminding 
one, as they do, of similar lapses in the Continental 
Congress which had deteriorated in marked degree, 
are to be explained by that demoralization, due to 
eight years of war, already referred to in the citation 
from Campbell. 

The Virginia Assembly met in "a small wooden 
building." Of the two rooms occupied by it, the 
smaller anteroom was "a scene of conversational 
tumult." A burly door-keeper stood guard at the 
entrance to the larger room where the lawmakers sat. 
Johann David Schoepf , a traveler, who visited Rich- 
mond in 1783, looked in upon the "legislative majesty 
of Virginia" with some wonder. There was too much 
"movement, laughter, talk"; "these Solons were not 
quiet five minutes at a time." In Beveridge we find 
also an unaddressed letter from Marshall to MonroeS 
in which the leading members and their work are 
touched upon. "Legion" Harry is to displace R. H. 
Lee; and Marshall "does not know ^whether the public 
will be injured by the change.' " In telling of a tilt 
between ihe honorable speaker and Patrick Henry, 
Marshall says: "The Speaker replied with some degree 
of acrimony and Henry retorted with a good deal of 
temper; 'tis his peculiar excellence when he altercates 
to appear to be drawn unwillingly into the contest and 
to throw in the eyes of others the whole blame on his 
adversary. His influence is immense." 

As for the duties of the Privy Council or Coimcil of 
State, Be veridge says: "The Coimcil consisted of 

^ Marshall to Monroe, December 12, 178S; Ms. Draper Collection, Wiaoansin 
Historical Society; also American Historical Review, Vol. HI, p. 67S. Of this 
letter, Senator Beveridge says: *' It has been assumed that it was written to TliomM 
^'dSerson. This is incorrect. It was written to James Monroe.*' 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 91 

eight members elected by the Legislature either from 
the delegates or from the people at large. It was the 
Governor's official cabinet, and a constitutional part 
of the executive power. The Governor consulted the 
Council on all important matters coming before him, 
and he appointed various important officers only upon 
its advice.** While members of this Council, both 
Monroe (in 1782) and Marshall (in 1782-83) saw the 
workings of the new political machine "first run by 
Patrick Henry, perfected by Thomas Jefferson, and 
finally developed to its ultimate efficiency by Spencer 
Roane and Thomas Ritchie.*' Marshall, as Beveridge 
tells us, profited by his knowledge of this machine when 
in after life it became his "great antagonist." Monroe, 
too, profited by the political knowledge gained during 
his brief period as a Councillor. Surprise was expressed 
that one so young as Marshall should be given so 
important an office. He " took part in the appointment 
of surveyors, justices of the peace, tobacco inspectors 
and other officers." But Monroe, as we recall, was 
even younger than Marshall. Each had stood up under 
hard knocks in the great school of the Continental 
army and both were men well-equipped for public 
service whatever their age^ 

Beveridge brings out the friendly association of 
Marshall and Monroe in the early eighties. They were 
even closer comrades then than during the war. 
Marshall as a young man was of a particularly winning 
disposition. His liveliness was pronounced. It was 
the time of his courtship of Mary Willis Ambler, 
daughter of Jacquelin Ambler, who lived first at York 
then at Richmond. And here now is something curious 
involving the love affairs of certain celebrities : Jacquelin 
Ambler's brother Edward married Mary Cary, who 
was "very beautiful, heiress of a moderate fortune 
and much sought after." Tradition long declared that 
one of the young Virginians who "sought after*' her 

^ Marshall emit the G>iincil and, though he lived in Hemioo County was re- 
elected to the Legislature from Fauquier. 



9£ THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

was George Washington. But this story, it seems, has 
been exploded. Or rather, it has been amended for 
it was another of Colonel Wilson Miles Gary's daughters, 
sister of Mary Gary, who captivated the young Golonel. 
Erring tradition merely mixed those eqiud beauties up. 
Mary Ambler's mother was none other than Jefferson's 
sweetheart Rebecca Burwell^ The war had reduced 
the Amblers in fortune and they lived not in a mansion 
but in a small frame house. When they moved to 
Richmond, they were glad to get any sort of dwelling, 
since the town was small and primitive. "Where we 
are to lay our heads, Heaven knows!" wrote Eliza, 
Mary Ambler's sister. Eliza had heard so much of 
John Marshall that she expected to see in him a young 
knight, a paragon; but instead of that he was a "tall, 
loose-jointed young man thin to gauntness," in ungainly 
dress, slouch hat and with rustic bearing. Neverthe- 
less, Mary Ambler fell in love with him at first sight, 
as he did with her. She saw in the young captain that 
nobility of character and exceedingly happy and sunny 
and lovable nature upon which Monroe and his other 
comrades had long remarked. Marshall made love as 
he made war. He "fascinated the entire Ambler 
family." "Thus began a lifelong romance, which," 
says Beveridge*, "in tenderness, exaltation, and con- 
stancy is unsurpassed in the chronicles of historic 
affections." 

When Marshall married, he needed money. Monroe 
was in like straits. Marshall's father sold some of his 
land; and Monroe wanted to sell his. Marshall wrote 
to Monroe: "I do not know what to say to your scheme 
of selling out. If you can execute it, you will have 
made a very capital sum, if you can retain your lands 

^ In the Green Bag, Vol. VIUU p. 481, is an aooount by Susan BfiniVijph of 
Jefferson's love affair with Rebecca Burwell: "He is a boy and is induputaSbr in 
love in this good year lt68, and he courts and sighs to captait bis pretty* httle 
swee theart, but like his friend, George Washington, fails. Tbe young lac^^ wiQ 
not be captured!" 

* See Beveridge's Marshall, Vol. I, p. 16%, Also "An Old YimmB Coffnspoiid- 
ence,** letters of Betsy Ambler Carrington to her sister Nanoy; Atlantic Monthbr, 
Vol. 84, pp. 536^540. Also, Historical Magawneb VoL m, p. 1«5. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 98 

you will be poor during life unless you remove to the 
Western Country, but you have secured for posterity 
an immense fortune/' ^ Probably the two had talked 
of going west. Colonel Thomas Marshall journeyed 
to Kentucky in 1780; and about the time of which we 
are telling, moved there for good, becoming Surveyor 
of Revenue for the District of Ohio. John Marshall 
reminded Monroe that he could learn what he wished 
as to the value of Kentucky lands from the folks who 
had gone on ahead. Marshall, says Beveridge, *^ mixed 
fun with his business and politics.*' On February 24, 
1784, he writes to James Monroe that public money 
due the latter could not be secured. "The exertions 
of the Treasurer and of your other friends have been 
ineffectual. There is not one shilling in the Treasury 
and the keeper of it could not borrow one on the faith 
of the government.'* Marshall confides to Monroe 
that he himself is "pressed for money," and adds that 
Monroe's "old Landlady, Mrs. Shera, begins now to 
be a little clamorous. ... I shall be obliged, I appre- 
hend, to negotiate your warrants at last at a discount. 
I have kept them up this long in hopes of drawing 
money for them from the Treasury.'* Beveridge adds:' 
"Very few of Marshall's letters during this period are 
extant. This one to Monroe is conspicuously noticeable 
for unrestraint and joyousness. As unreserved as he 
always was in verbal conversation, Marshall's corres- 
pondence soon began to show great caution, unlike 
that of Jefferson which increased, with time, in spon- 
taneity. Thus Marshall's letters became more guarded 
and less engaging; while Jefferson's pen used ever more 
highly colored ink and progressively wrote more enter- 
taining if less trustworthy matter." In the gossipy 
Marshall-Monroe letter referred to, Marshim tells 
Monroe all about the youth of Richmond who "are all 
treading the broad road to matrimony. Little Steward 



I Marahall to Monroe, December It, 178S, Draper Colleclioa, Wm. Hiitofical 
Society; and December 28, 1784, Monroe Biss^ VU, p. 888. 
> Beveridtse's ManhaU. Vol. I. pp. 182, 18S. 



96 TEDB LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

and macadam. Let us bear in mind also that the 
passion for the American Union per se, now a second 
nature with most of us, was as yet undeveloped — in 
some quarters, indeed, unfelt. 

Off and on for ten years public men had urged a 
closer and stronger union. Washington had made 
pleas for it. Jefferson called for ""yoimg statesmen" 
with broad views. Paine had said in "Common 
Sense": "Nothing but a continental form of govern- 
ment can keep the peace of the continent. " He wanted 
a continental conference to frame a continental charter; 
"our strength and happiness is continental, not pro- 
vincial." He saw clearly; if others — some others — 
did not. "We have every opportunity to form the 
noblest and purest constitution on the face of the 
globe, " said he, as if glimpsing far into the future. But 
the Articles of Confederation, as drawn up by so strong 
a conservative as John Dickinson, a member of the 
committee appointed by Congress June 11, 1776, 
were modified and weakened before their acceptance 
by Congress, November 16, 1777. Even then some of 
the States withheld their assent. The main drawback 
was their unwillingness to surrender their claims to 
vast stretches of western lands. Golden were the sun- 
sets in that direction; and each State was loath to lop 
off the imdeveloped riches it might in time secure. 
Finally, February 19, 1780, New York ceded her rights 
to western lands; and, on January 2, 1781, Virginia 
surrendered to Congress all claims in the great region 
northwest of the Ohio River. Maryland then accepted 
the Articles; and, on July 9, Congress ratified them. 

Already, however, the Articles had been tried and 
found wanting. There was no Executive; no Supreme 
Court; no real power in Congress itself. What, then, 
could Congress do? It could make peace, coin money 
and establish courts for various purposes, such as the 
trial of piracy cases. Provided it did not trench upon 
the powers of the State, it could do other usefid things. 
It was a sort of budget committee, too; it coidd make 



TEDB LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 97 

estimates. But while it could vote a tax it could not 
collect it. Here was a fatal weakness; for how could it 
raise a revenue to pay soldiers, or the interest on the 
eight millions borrowed from France and Holland? And 
there was another fatal weakness. It was powerless to 
regulate commerce. Both that right and the right of 
taxation belonged exclusively to the States. Another 
thing — the citizen, the individual, was amenable to 
the State, not to the Confederation. "Congress," 
says Andrews,^ "could not touch individuals; it must 
act through the State Governments, and in these it had 
to enforce the payment of taxes." As Andrews puts 
it, "the States complied or not as they chose. In 
October, 1781, Congress asked for $8,000,000; in 
January, 1783, it had received less than a half a mil- 
lion." Elson * says: "Eighteen months were required 
to collect one-fifUi of the taxes laid by Congress in 
1783." The Treasury was empty, the States were 
imresponsive with their quotas of money, and credit 
abroad was about gone. Strange to say, specie was not 
so scarce as it had been earlier in the war. Robert 
Morris paid the soldiers with hard money at Head of 
Elk. "The heads of the kegs were knocked out for 
effect, and the specie rolled out, to the great joy and 
astonishment of the soldiers. So excnted were they that 
one of them shouted at the top of his voice, "Look! 
look! Jonathan by jingo! it is hard money."* 

Was Morris, then, a magician? Morris was a great 
patriot, a great financier; he had little to do with the 
hard-money phenomenon. The money was in the 
country, but not in the hands of Congress, which was 
financially debilitated. Here, indeed, was a paradox; 

^ Hktoty of the United States, by E. Benjamin Andrews, 1894, 8 vols^ Vol. I, 
p. iM. 

^EIsdd's History of the United SUtes. Albert Bushnell Hart says: "The 
total sum required from 1781 to 1788 was about $10,000,000. Of this there had 
actually been paid during the seven years $B,WM)00 in specie and $t,000,000 
in certificates of national indebtedness. The annual cash moome was therefore 
about a half a million, which was entirely absorbed by the running tspmaa of 
the ffovenmient, leaving nothing for the payment of interest." — Fonnation of 
tbe Union, 1775-1829. 

* Amcrioui Review, Vol. VI, p. 76. 



98 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

yet not the only paradoxical matter associated with this 
period. Why were so many unhesitating advocates of 
free America weakly hesitant when it came to the ques- 
tion of binding the States together in an mibreakable 
bond? They had risked their necks against the British 
King; they would risk nothing against King Misrule, 
whose real name was Anarchy. 

Abroad the defects of government under the Articles 
were apparent. In Great Britain it was regretted that 
peace had not been made with each State instead of 
with the States conjointly. What an opening that 
would have been for future conquest! The English 
disbelieved in the reality of American union. The 
King thought that stable government here was out of 
the question. As Bancroft notes,^ there was at Boston, 
in August, 1780, a convention of five States which 
declared for a "more solid and permanent union with 
one supreme head'* and a competent Congress to 
manage such affairs as are not entrusted to the States. 
Albany approved of this. Hamilton urged that a Con- 
vention be held to set up a "vigorous" General Con- 
federacy; and he wished it to be done at once, without 
further consultation with that many-headed party of 
which he was none too fond. " Call a Convention of the 
States," advised General Greene, and establish a Con- 
gress upon a Constitutional footing. Kjiox said the 
army wanted "a hoop for the barrel." A Convention 
at Hartford warned Congress that "the States in 
attempting to retain too much of their independence 
might finally lose the whole. " The staves of the barrel 
would fall apart. In the opinion of the New Jersey 
Legislative Council and Assembly, "Congress repre- 
sented the Federal Republic, " After the &ial ratifica- 
tion, James Duane wrote to Washington that "by the 
accomplishment of our Federal Union we are become a 
nation." But Washington had no illusions on that 
score. He said: "There must be something more than 

^ HLstory of the Formation of the Constitution of the United States, by George 
Bancroft, 1882, 2 vols.. Vol I, p. 12, ei Mq. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 99 

a recommendatory power in Congress." In February 
he appealed to Jefferson, Pendleton and Wythe to favor 
the enlargement of the powers of Congress. " I declare 
to God/* said he, "my only aim is the general good.'* 
It was necessary for him to say this because his enemies 
accused him of seeking to strengthen the nation imperi- 
ally so that he might set up as its monarch. In redity, 
he abhorred the thought. To Monroe's imcle, Joseph 
Jones, "whom,** says Bancroft, "he regarded with 
sincere affection and perfect trust,** Washington wrote 
that unless Congress should be strengthened "the 
States would be annihilated in a general crash.** 
"The fable of the bunch of sticks,** he added, "may 
weU be applied to us. ** In a letter to Duane, Hamilton* 
portrayed in a masterly way the defects of the Con- 
federation. "Madison wrote vigorously on the vices 
and evil practices of the system. ** 

By this time, too, the Continental Congress had 
become a peripatetic body. Its proper meeting place 
was Philadelphia, but it had permitted itself to be 
driven away from Independence Hall by a few money- 
less and mutinous troops — eighty only, who had come 
clamoring down from Lancaster. There were other 
troops at the barracks in Philadelphia and these too 
had lost patience with Congress, which was not as 
much to blame for imhappy conditions affecting the 
soldiers as were the various States.* The demoraliza- 
tion of Congress was of a piece with the demoralization 
and general laxity of the country.* "It was less a 
Government than an exigency committee.** When it 
left Philadelphia it re-assembled in College Hall at 
Princeton; and the new Congress, to which Jefferson 
and Monroe belonged, met there on Monday, November 
3, with se ven States represented. After it had chosen 

1 Justin Winjor, Narrative and Critical History, Vol. VII, p. 215, et seq. 

s In quick succession had occurred "the Mutiny of 1781, the Newburgh epi- 
sode, and the Mutiny of 1783 — menaces of an army driven in desperation to 
turn* against its creators/* "The fault lay in the neglect of the States to make 
payment possible, a neglect far less excusable than the mutiny itself."— The 
Continental Congress at Princeton, by Vamum Lansing Collins, 1908. 

* £. B. Andrews. History of the United States, 2 voU, VoL ]« p. 27S. 



100 THE UFB OF JAMES MONROE 

General Thomas Mifflin president, it adjourned, on the 
fourth, to meet at Annapolis, Md., on the twenty-sixth. 
But, at Annapolis, as there were not enough members 
in attendance,^ it was necessary to adjourn and re- 
adjourn. This was continued from day to day until 
on Saturday, December IS, it was found that twenty 
delegates were present — enough to proceed to business. 
Monroe's Virginia coUeagues were Thomas JeflFerson,* 
Samuel Hardy, John F. Mercer and Arthur Lee. 

The State House at Annapolis where Congress sat 
(in what is now the Maryland Senate chamber) is a 
fine colonial hall seated upon a rounded hill-top, from 
which one may look down upon the beautifid estuary 
of the Severn and the broader distant waters of the 
Chesapeake Bay. Had Monroe sailed due east across 
the bay, he would have come close to the spot on Kent 
Island where his first American ancestor settled more 
than a hundred years before. It was almost within 
sight of Bay Ridge bluflF at Severn mouth. But it is 
doubtfid if Monroe gave thought either to old Captain 
Andrew or to the winter sun-sparkle on the Chesapeake. 
He was too much interested in what was going on 
around him. The place itself must have caught his 
fancy. From Capitol Hill, as a hub, the streets of the 
town radiated like the spokes of a wheel. Probably 
Annapolis was alive with visitors, in anticipation of the 
coming of Washington. Peace, it will be remembered, 
had been agreed upon provisionally, November 30, 
1782; proclaimed to the British Army, April 19, 1783 — 
Lexington Day — and definitely arranged September 
30, 1783. So Washington was to sheathe his shining 



J. 



^ Justin Winsor says: "There was so little intereit to secure the attendance of 
members of Congress that there was no time between October, 178S, and June, 
17S4, when nine States were in attendance — the necessary quorum — to act 
on the treaty of peace." — Narrative and Critical History of Amtf ica. Vol. VII, 
p. «17. 

' For a lively account of the election of the five delegates, and Virnnia political 
manoeuvring at this period, see a long letter by Tholnson Mason to J. F. Mercer, 
in "George Mason" by Kate Mason Rowluid, Vol. II, pp. 65-66, See also 
"Letters of Joseph Jones," Monroe's uncle. "Joseph Jones," says Mrs. Row- 
land, "hiuried from his seat in Congress to attend the Assembly, and he wrote 
regularly to Madison while in Richmond to report the progren of affairs." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 101 

sword. First, though, he said good-bye to his comrades. 
This initial farewell was at noon on December 4 at 
Fraunces* Tavern in New York. "With a heart full of 
love and gratitude I take leave of you,*' said he. Then 
there were aflfectionate haiidrclaspings, embraces. "In 
every eye, " wrote Marshall,^ !- was the tear of dignified 
sensibility; and not a word w$^. articulated to interrupt 
the majestic silence and tenderneafi'of the scene." He 
left the room, passed through the coxp3.o{ light infan- 
try and walked to Whitehall Ferry, whejUB he boarded 
his barge for the Jerseys and the South. At'Plvladelphia 
he settled his accounts with the Treasury^ JHfe had 
served eight years without pay. On the everiing'.of -the 
nineteentii he arrived at Annapolis. That nigKt- the 
State House was illuminated. Washington's purjiosiQ.'. 
was to deliver his commission to Congress, which body^ 
he notified next day.^ 

Congress arranged for a dinner in his honor on Mon- 
day, the twenty-second ; and, at noon on Tuesday gave 
tiini a public audience in the legislative chamber. In 
one of the galleries, which was "bright with a beautiful 
group of elegant ladies, '* sat Mrs. Martha Washington 
and her two grandchildren, Nelly and Parke Custis. 
Staff oflScers accompanied Washington as he entered 
the hall. In his right hand he held his commission and 
a copy of his address; and in his left hand his sheathed 
sword. Charles Thomson, the faithful secretary, met 
and led him to his seat by the President's chair. All 
delegates stood uncovered — an unusual honor. When 
President Mifflin signified the readiness of Congress to 
receive the commission, Washington, in a short fare- 
weU, gave up his command. Having handed over the 
commission and a copy of his address, he resimied his 
seat; but, when Mifflin replied, he arose and stood until 
the President had ceased to speak. Great the solemnity; 

^ The Life oC George Washington, by John Manhall, Vol. IV. p. 680. 

* "The General had been so reserved with regard to the time of his intended 
resignation, that Congress had not the least apprehension of its being either so 
soon or so sudden." — William Gordon, Histoiy of the United SUtes» VoL IV» 
pp. 886-S80. 



102 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

deep the feeling; indeed, it is doubtful whether Monroe, 
or any other patriotic witness of the ceremony, ever 
allowed the scene to fade out of his recollection. 

John Trumbull painted it, and William Makepeace 
Thackeray put it into his **I!our Georges,'* ^ contrast- 
ing the opening feast of Prince George in London and 
the resignation of Wellington. '"Which," he asked, 
" is the most noble cfafuracter for after ages to admire — 
yon fribble doacing in laces and spangles or yonder 
hero who sheq,;^s his sword after a life of spotless 
honor, a t>urity unapproached, a courage indomitable, 
and ^jdQAsummate victory?" 

Nc^* morning Washington hastened to Mt. Vernon, 
gjrivihg there the same day, Christmas Eve. He had 
-bfeen home but once — and that only for a hurried 
'visit — in eight long years. "The scene has closed at 
last," he wrote to Governor Clinton. "I feel myself 
eased of a load of public care. " 



1 Thackeray's Four Georges, p. 114; Lodge's Washington, Vol. I, p. 999; Har- 
rison's Washington, pp. S8S, 884. 



CHAPTER VI 

In the Congress of the Confederation 

**In December, 1783, when Mr. Monroe took his 
seat in Congress," said John Quincy Adams in his 
Boston address to which we have referred, "the first 
act of that body should have been to ratify the definite 
treaty of j)eace with Great Britain, which had been 
signed at Paris on the preceding third of September. 
That treaty was the transaction which closed the 
Revolutionary war and settled forever the question of 
American independence. It was stipulated that its 
ratifications should be exchanged within six months 
from the day of its signature; and we can now scarcely 
believe it possible, that, but for a mere accident, the 
faith of the nation would have been violated and the 
treaty itself cancelled for want of a power in Congress 
to pass it through the mere formalities of ratification. 
By the Articles of Confederation no treaty could be 
concluded without the assent of nine States; but only 
seven States were assembled in Congress. Then came 
a captious debate, whether the act of ratification was 
a mere formality for which seven States were as com- 
petent as nine, or whether it was the very medullary 
substance of a treaty, which unless assented to by nine 
States, would be null and void — a monstrous and 
tyrannical usurpation!'*^ The eulogist continued: 

'* Among the mischievous consequences of the inability of 
Congress to administer the affairs of the Union was the waste of 
time and talents of the most eminent patriots of the country in 
captious, irritating and fruitless debates. The commerce, the 
pubUc debt, the fiscal concerns, the foreign relations, the public 

^ Eulogy of James Monroe (reprinted wiUi the Madiflon Eulogy as lAytB of 
James Madison and James Monroe by J. Q. Adams). Madison spoke of John 
Quincy Adams' Boston Address. August 25, 1881» "as a just and happy tribute'* 
ip Monroe. 

108 



IM THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

lands, the obligations to the Revolutionary vetotins, the inter- 
course of war and peace with the Indian tribes, were all subjects 
upon which the beneficent action of Congress was necessary; 
while at every step, and upon every subject, they were met by 
the same insurmountable barriers of interdicted or undelegated 
powers. These observations may be deemed not iDapproiHiate 
to the apology for Mr. Monroe, and for all the diitinguishea patriots 
associated with him during his three years of the service in the 
Congress of the Confederation, in contemplating the slender 
results of benefit to the public in all the service whiob was possible 
for them, thus cramped and crippled, to render. " 

On Januajy 14, 1784, with twenty-three delegates 
present from nine States, the definitive treaty was 
ratified. The Journal of Congress shows that much 
routine work was done by Monroe.* Early in the ses- 
sion of the Fourth Congress he evinced an aptitude for 
parliamentary business. When he took hold of a thing 
he kept hold, as a rule, until the matter was disposed 
of. IVom the Journal and original " Papers of the Conti- 
nental Congress," we see just how he voted on numerous 
questions and note the various committees on which 
he served. His name frequently appears in the records 
and always honorably.* 

There were three matters of moment in which 
Monroe figured — one involving many questions con- 
nected with the great back country; ano^er having to 
do with the Federal regulation of commerce; and still 
another, equally important, bearing upon the Missis- 
sippi outlet to the Gulf of Mexico. 

What should be done with the vast domain beyond 
the AUeghenies? 

Had Congress power to regulate the commerce of 
the country, or should it be left to the whims and 
vagaries of thirteen Congresses, each antagonistic to 
the other? 



^ "He was tall and well-fonned, quiet and dignified in manocr and dmple in 
drtMB. He had little talent as an orator or wntar, but his leniible views upon 
pid>lic questions, his spotless integrity and rare devotion to duty made him an 
mfl"^*"t"'^ man in Conmss and elsewhere." — Moore's American Congress, p. 85. 

* It would obstruct the narrative unduly should we attempt to sununarise from 
S. M. Hamilton's Writings of Monroe, Vol. I, pp. XXVm-LVlI, Monroe's routine 
and Committee work in the old Congress^ JELt eiaminad maoy claims and 
nported iqx>n many subjects. 



TEDB LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 105 

Should Spain control the Gulf, and plu^ up the 
Mississippi, or did it of right belong to the mheritors 
of the Allegheny watershed of the vast valley of that 
river? 

In each of the three subjects we are endeavoring to 
stress, danger lurked — danger of downright disrup- 
tion; on the contrary, in the statesmanlike solution of 
the various problems involved were to be foimd the 
future security, prosperity and happiness of the United 
States. 

Thanks to the foresight of Franklin, Adams and Jay, 
the Treaty of Peace stipulated that the territory should 
include the wilderness " Crown lands " from the moun- 
tains to the Mississippi. 

In 1779, Virginia opened a land oflSce with the pur- 
pose of selling her wild lands. Congress protested. 
There was a long and dangerous dispute over the 
unappropriated lands, threatening to disrupt the Con- 
federation. Maryland refused to sign the articles unless 
Virginia should relinquish her pretensions. Then New 
York set the example of ceding her wild lands to the 
General Government. Connecticut followed her. Next 
came Virginia, December 20, 1783.^ No doubt Monroe 
deemed it a great privilege, when, on March 1, 1784, 
with his colleagues he signed the parchment deed 
transferring the rights of Virginia in the Northwest 
Territory to the United States. JeflFerson's seal on this 
deed is gone; the seals of Hardy and Lee are broken; 
but that of Monroe remains intact. Not all of the 
Virginians were of the mind of these delegates. At 
Richmond it was proposed to revoke the release, but 
under the leadership of Monroe's uncle, Joseph Jones, 
the cession of March 1, 1784, was confirmed. 

Already our pioneers were occupying vantage points 
in the great region. Especially numerous were the 
settlers in what is now Ohio, whither General Rufus 
Putnam had gone with the definite piurpose of organizing 
a new Co mmonwealth. In view of the heroic campaign 

^ Jourual of CongrcM, VoL I» p. 888. 



106 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

of General George Rogers Clark, Virginia, with its 
original charter^claims, had more than a common 
interest in the disposition of the vast and fertile region 
destined, as it seemed, to be the very heart and hope 
of the republic. 

Jefferson was concerned about it for more reasons 
than one. Slavery was a sore subject with him, as it 
was with most of the advanced iJiinkers, even then, 
whether South or North. His **po8t natV* scheme, 
first advanced in 1779, provided for gradual removal 
of the blacks beyond the limits of the United States. 
The colonization idea was referred to as his in his Notes 
on Virginia, issued about the time of which we are 
telling. He wished to keep slavery out of the whole 
region. So did his followers. Their impulses and 
deliberate conclusions on this theme were alike credit- 
able to them in the very highest degree. "The design 
of Jefferson," says Bancroft, "marks an era in the his- 
tory of the universal freedom.'* Jefferson bore witness 
against slavery "all his life long.*' He and Chancellor 
Wythe, in codifying the laws of Virginia, sought to 
provide for gradual emancipation. 

Four days after the Virginia cession an ordinance 
was reported in Congress for locating and regulating 
the sale of public lands. On April 23, the Jefferson 
Ordinance of 1784 was reported. It contained this 
clause: "That after the year 1800 of the Christian era 
there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude 
in any of the said States (to be carved out of the West- 
em territory) otherwise than in punishment of crimes, 
whereof the party shaU have been convicted to have 
been personally guilty.*' 

Bancroft dwells with emphasis upon Virginia's con- 
tribution toward a better union. "In the Fourth 
Congress,'* says he, "Jefferson carried forward the 
work of Madison with alacrity." They were a power. 
They were indefatigable. Not only did they work for 
an extension of Federal authority, but each had a 
vision with respect to the opening of the west. "At 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 107 

that time slavery prevailed throughout much more 
than half the lands of Europe/' Jefferson '"following 
an impulse of his own mmd," not only proposed to 
dieck the extension of slavery at the north and south 
line, but "slavery was to be rung out with the depart- 
ing century," so that in all the Western territory, 
whether held in 1784 by Georgia, North Carolina, 
Virginia, or the United States, '* the sun of the new 
century might dawn on no slave/* 

But there was a sad set-back. When a vote was 
taken, April 19, 1784, on the motion of Richard Dobbs 
Spai^t, of North Carolina, to strike out the anti- 
slavery provision, the chairman put the question 
*' Shall the words moved to be struck out stand?" 
Seven afl&rmative votes would have been enough. 
Jefferson, who mentions Spaight as a "young fool,** 
writes to Madison (April 25): "The clause was lost by 
an individual vote only. Ten States were present. 
The four Eastern States, New York and Pennsylvania 
were for the clause; Jersey would have been for it, but 
there were but two members, one of whom was sick in 
his chambers. South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia 
voted against it. North Carolina was divided, as would 
have been Virginia, had not one of its delegates been 
sick in bed.'* Bancroft adds: "The absent Virginian 
was Monroe, who for himself has left no evidence of 
such an intention, and who was again absent when in 
the following year the question was revived. For 
North Carolina the vote of Spaight was neutralized by 
Williamson.** 

Let it be noted that the Jefferson Ordinance of 1784, 
minus the no-slavery provision, was enacted April 23; 
and provided a temporary government for the North- 
west Territory. 

Jefferson's disaj^ointment was shared by many dis- 
cerning men. With such as Timothy Pickering, it 
amoimted to disgust. In his letters to Rufus King, 
Pickering harps on the necessity of restoring the clause. 
Xjng was a rising young statesman. While volunteer 



108 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

aide to Glover in Bull Hill fight, that General ordered 
him post haste from the breakfast table to report oh 
an outbreak of cannon fire. As King left his chair. 
Colonel TVumbull's friend, H. Sherburne, took it. 
When King returned a little while after Sherburne was 
being borne away on a litter, his leg shattered by a 
cannon-ball. New to Congress, King was already a 
man of note. Prompted by his own feeling, as well 
as by Pidcering, he tried to restore the lost dause. In 
his Life of Rufus King, Dr. Charles R. KingS following 
the notes of Prof. Cnarles King, says: "When, then, 
on March 16, 1785, the consideration of the proper 
disposition of the public lands was resumed, Mr. Kmg, 
seconded by Mr. Ellery, of Rhode Island, moved the 
proposition that there shall be neither slavery nor 
involimtary servitude in any of the States described in 
the resolve of Congress of the twenty-third of April, 
1784, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof 
the party shall have been guilty, and that this regula- 
tion shall be an article of compact and remain a fimda- 
mental principle of the Constitution between the thir- 
teen original States described in the said resolve of the 
twenty-thu-d of April, 1784." 

This was referred to a committee of which King was 
chairman. He reported it, April 6, with a proviso that 
slavery be allowed "until the first day of the year 
1801, but no longer." Thereafter it gathered dust in 
the secretary's docket. 

Now in the preliminaries, Congress had proposed to 
carve ten new States out of these Western lands. ^ 
This was as early as 1780. Somewhat later, Theodorick 
Bland introduce a pioneering ordinance for colonizing 
the territory northwest of the Ohio. The stipulation 
as to ten States, in the resolve of 1780, which was 

^ Tlie Life and Correspondence of Rufui King, G volf .. Vol. I, p. 83 e< mo. Charles 
^Kmg, FnmdfBD/t of Columbia CdQiogt, was Rufus King's son; Charles R. Klag» M JD^ 
of Andaliinia, Philadelphia, his ^widson. 

' Bancroft's Formation of the ConstitutioiL Vol. I, p. 106; Laws idating to 
Public Landflb p. 996; Journal of Congress, Vol. JH, p. 585; Picktfbg "fanned 
a comi^ete jmn for settling lands in Ohio." PidDenng's idea was to exdude 
slavery. F^dnring^s Plbkaring, Vol. I» p. 510. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 109 

embodied in Virginia's act of cession and in the Ordi- 
nance of 1784, caused trouble. In 1786 Nathan Dane 
moved the appointment of a committee to remedy it. 
Monroe was chairman of this important committee. 
Having purposely dwelt upon the facts relating to the 
no-slavery clause, we now revert to Bancroft's reference 
to "the absent Virginian" who was sick in bed when 
wanted in Congress. In this matter, the excellent 
Bancroft leaves Monroe in a less enviable light than 
we should like. We do not think his inference war- 
ranted. We are obliged to take exception not so much 
to what Bancroft actually says as to his way of saying 
it. The thing that reflects upon Monroe is the juxta- 
position in the sentence dealing with his absences or 
alleged absences; one explained; the other not explained. 
When a man is sick in bed, he is too sick to go to Con- 
gress. There have been heroic instances in which 
legislators have risked their lives in order to cast their 
emergent votes; but they belie the rule. As to why 
Monroe was absent the following year, if he were absent, 
we have insuflScient knowledge. He was one of the 
active men in Congress and had much to manage. 
Like other delegates he was absent at many roll-calls. 
The Journal of Congress shows this. But at times 
members were away as commissioners, or busy in the 
performance of other public duties. 

Bancroft^ indulges in other strictures. Speaking of 
Monroe's committee to report on a form of temporary 
government for the Western States, the historian of the 
Constitution says: 

''On the tenth of May this committee read their report. It 
asked the consent of Virginia to a division of the territory into 
not less than two or more than five States; presented a plan for 
their temporary colonial government, and promised them ad- 
mission into the confederacy on the principle of the ordinance of 
Jeflterson. Not one word was said of a restriction of slaveiy. No 
man liked better than Monroe to lean for support on the minds 
and thoughts of others. He loved to spread his sails to a favoring 

1 Bancroft's Formation of the Comtitntioiit Vol I, pp. 08-118. Papers of Old 
CoBgren, VoL XXX. p. 78. 



110 TEDB LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

breeze, but in threatening weather preferred quiet under the 
shelter of his friends. When Jefferson, in 1784, moved a restriction 
on slavery in the western country from Florida to the Lake of the 
Woods, Monroe was ill enough to be out of the way at the division. 
When King in the following year revived the question, he was 
a|^in absent at the vote; now when the same subject challenged 
his attention he was equally silent. At first Monroe flattered him- 
self that his report was generally approved; but no step was taken 
toward its adoption. AU that was done lastingly for we West by 
this Congress was the fruit of independent movements. On the 
twelfth of May, at the motion of Grayson seconded by King, the 
navigable waters leading into the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence, 
and the carrying places between them, w^e declared to be common 
hi^^ways, forever free to all citizens of the United States, with- 
out any tax, import or duty.'' 

Grayson had joined the Virginia delegation in Con- 
gress on March 11, 1785. He at once began to work 
with Rufns King and William EUery in their eflFort 
to restore JeflFerson's no-slavery clause to the ordinance 
affecting the new territory. As to the number of States 
to be set up, that subject was transferred from Monroe's 
conmiittee to a grand committee, which reported on 
July 7. Grayson proposed to create five States in the 
region now covered by Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michi- 
gan and Wisconsin. The South voted yea on this — 
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. 
South Carolina was divided; "the north did not give 
one vote in its favor; and the motion was lost." It was 
then agreed that there should be at least three States 
in that region. We quote Bancroft again: 

"The cause which arrested the progress of the ordinance of 
Monroe was a jealousy of the political power of the Western States, 
and a preventing desire to impede their admission into the Union. 
For hmiself he (Monroe) remained on this point true to the 
principles of Jefiferson; to whom he explained with accurate fore- 
sight the policy toward which Congress was drifting. '* "When the 
iiSiabitants of Kaskaskias presented a petition for the organization 
of the government over their district, Monroe took part in the 
answer, that Congress had under consideration a plan of temporary 
government for their district, in which it would manifest a due 
regard to their interest."^ 

^ Journalfl of Consren, Vol. lY, p. 088. 680. 



THE LIFE OP JAMES MONROE 111 

In view of Monroe's fidelity as a zealous disciple of 
Jefferson; of his wish that slavery might in time be 
relegated to the limbo of outworn customs, and 
especially of his actual concert with his kinsman and 
colleague, William Grayson, it is unfortunate that 
Bancroft should make him out to be altogether too 
politic, too non-committal, too ready to coimt the 
odds. 

There is no proper warrant for the assumption that 
Monroe purposely stayed away from Congress on the 
day Spaight made his motion. It would be just as fair 
to assert that Spaight, knowing Jefferson's friend 
Monroe to be too ill to be present, seized upon the 
occasion to call for a vote. Neither assumption is allow- 
able. There is no evidence worthy of acceptance in 
the coiui; of history. But we may draw one conclusion 
— make one conjecture : if Jefferson, who was so angry 
with Spaight as to call him a fool, had thought Monroe 
censurable, he would have said so. But Jefferson had 
not the slightest grudge against him, trusted him con- 
stantly and gave repeated proof of the warmth of his 
friendship. Monroe was so much younger than Jeffer- 
son, Grayson and Madison as to defer to them. He had 
left college to go to fight, and felt his deficiency in com- 
parison with old graduates. Moreover what Jefferson 
and Madison thought of Monroe may be best imder- 
stood by reading a passage from the "Life and Times of 
Madison" by W. C. Rives.^ Referring to the "close and 
confidential correspondence" between Madison and 
Monroe "which continued, with rare interruption for 
near half a century," Rives sketches Monroe's career; 
and adds: 

''A friendship of a most intimate character grew up between 
them, which, like that between Jefferson and Madison, though 
not without one or two transient intermissions, attended them to 
the close of their lives, and was warmly and affectionatelv cherished 
by each. It is a rare and noble spectacle in the history or humanity 
to see three men of such eventful lives, coming from tiie same State 



1 Bivcs' Madison, Vol. I, pp. 10-21. 



112 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

and Deighborhoody united for so long a time by bonds of the closest 
friendship, and attaining in succession, one after another in the 
order of their a^, the supreme magistracy of their country — 
a station, in their day at least, as eulted as any among^ men. ** 
''Mr. Monroe was less distinguished by orifonal genius and 
philosophical breadth of views than either of uie three friends^ 
but he had a basis of good sense and sound judgment, fortified by 
untiring application and indomitable perseverance, which made 
him equal to every exigency of public affairs. His patriotism was 
of a noble cast, and his integrity, often tried, was recognized as a 
proverb; so that Mr. Jefferson, writing to Mr. Madison a year 
or two after the time we are now treating, and wishing to convey 
a vivid conception of the rectitude of another whose character 
he was describing, says : 'For honesty, he is like our friend Monroe : 
turn his soul wrong side outwards and there is not a speck on it.' 
(Writings Jefferson, Vol. 11, p. 90.) His sentiments always bore 
the impression of his military training; and if his temper some- 
times threw off a hasty spark, it was ever a scintillation of honor, 
and was soon extinguished in the current of those generous affec- 
tions which nature had given him in large and overflowing 



measure. " 



Grayson framed and pushed an ordinance for the 
disposal of western lands. "The land ordinance of 
Jefferson, as amended from 1784 to 1788," says Ban- 
croft, ** definitely settled the character of the national 
land laws." Then, on July 13, 1787, a new ordinance 
— the Ordinance of 1787, designated by Daniel Webster 
as the "great Charter of Rights," became a law of the 
land. 

The Northwest Territory was to have a governor — 
Greneral Arthur St. Clair became the first — a secretary 
and three judges. When there were 5000 male inhabi- 
tants a General Assembly could be instituted. Mc- 
Laughlin says: "The Ordinance was a great State 
paper." No one man put it together. It grew. 

In telling of this empire-making ordinance we have 
been obliged to follow its development from year to 
year. Now we go back, and give some account of 
Monroe's field work in connection with the big back 
country beyond the Alleghenies. While in Richmond 
with Marshall, as we already have indicated, Monroe 
had become deeply interested in the West. He had 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 118 

long shared Washington's faith in the development of 
the trans-Appalachian coimtry; and his work in com- 
mittee had brought him in touch with various phases 
of the subject, rrobably no one had a more intimate 
and sympathetic knowledge of some of these phases. 
Few public men thought more, or wrote more, about 
them. On Jime S, 1784, he was associated with Sher- 
man, Read, McHenry and Dick on a conmiittee, to 
which was referred "the question of raising troops for 
the defence of the northwestern frontiers." Why were 
the British so tardy? What was their purpose in hold- 
ing fast to posts in territory no longer theirs? It could 
not but be sinister. Monroe took much to heart this 
suspicious tardiness on the part of an ex-enemy which 
would strip off the "ex" and go at it again if the chance 
should offer. 

Next month (July 22) he started on an extended 
tour of the territory. It was the smnmer recess. Con- 
gress had adjourned (June S) and was to meet no more 
at Annapolis, but was to convene at Trenton on 
October 30. This was the summer of La Fayette's 
first post-Revolutionary visit. It was the simtmier, 
too, of Jefferson's visit to Dr. Franklin at Passy. 
Monroe had helped to select the site of the new capital 
by the Potomac; and then had gone down into King 
George Coimty and thence to Richmond. He wrote a 
long letter to Jefferson from King George, July 20, in 
the course of which he said: 

*'The day after to-morrow I sit out [sic] upon the route through 
the Western Country. I have changed the direction and shall 
commence for the westward upon the North Biver, by Albany, etc. 
I shall pass through the lakes, visit the posts and come down to 
the Ohio and thence home. This route wUl neoeaaarily take me aU 
the time diuing the recess of Congress. '* 

Evidently our young statesman who preferred "sit 
out" to set out was of the mind to see things with his 
own eyes. Here is another reference to his tour of 
observation, this likewise being an extract from a 
letter to Jefferson, under date of New York, August 9: 



114 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

''I am ao far on my wa^ in performance of xny trip thro* the 
Lakes, rivers, etc. You will observe by this time that I have 
changed my route to commence for the Westward here up the 
No. nver, thence to the Lakes, to Detroit and thence to the Ohio — 
from the Ohio home. Upon the Ohio I purchase horses. Perhaps 
I may visit Montreal. Had I a month more to spare, I wo'd go to 
Boston, up the Kennebeck River to Quebec and thence on. I wiU 
certainly see all that my time will achnit of. It is possible I may 
lose my scalp from the temper of the Indians, but n either a little 
fighting or a great deal of running will save it I shall escape safe. 
I sit out up the No. river in very agreeable company. Mr. Yau^m 
and family are of the party.** 

Such was the quaint phraseology and such were the 
confidences of this epistolary time. Pray take note 
also of the touch of humor — a rare thing in Monroe's 
correspondence. Indeed there are but few humorous 
anecdotes or incidents that relate to Monroe. One of 
the best is connected with just such a tour as this we 
are describing. With his negro valet, he had lodged in 
a wayside house. They were to set out before daybreak; 
and it was still dark in the room in which they had 
slept when Monroe called his servant. " Get up, Sam," 
said he, ^^ and take a look out doors to see what kind a 
morning we have for our journey." Sam stumbled 
about awhile, opened a door and reported: "Hit er 
powerful dark mornin', Marse Jeems; and it smell o' 
cheese." Sam had opened a cupboard door, instead of 
the door of the house. 

Monroe wrote that he hoped "to acquire a better 
knowledge of the posts which we should occupy, the 
cause of the delay of the evacuation of the British 
troops, the temper of the Indians towards us — as well 
as the soil, waters and in general the natural view of 
the coimtry." 

At Schenectady he was told by men lately from Os- 
wego that a British officer there would chaUenge him. 
One of his informants, McFarlin, said that the officer 
had instructions from his conmiander-in-chief . Monroe 
at once wrote to Governor George Clinton at Albany. 
He was unable to understand, he said, why the British 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 115 

continued to hold military posts in New York State. 
Sir Guy Carleton had sailed away from New York in 
the preceding December. "It is surprising to me/* 
wrote Monroe, "that General Haldimand^ hath not 
evacuted these posts long since." ^ 

Ezra L' Hommedieu, a former member of Congress 
from New York, had informed Clinton at an earlier 
date that Haldimand had refused to permit Baron 
Steuben even to visit the posts. In the same letter 
L'Hommedieu* had declared that in his belief the 
State of Virginia intended to seize Niagara. Such were 
the alarms of a time when the thirteen Commonwealths 
hardly knew the pleasures of peace even after peace 
had come.' Clinton replied next day, censuring the 
imjustifiable conduct of Haldimand in continuing to 
hold the posts. Monroe likewise wrote to Governor 
Harrison of Virginia in regard to Canada and to his 
friend Madison "on the importance of garrisoning the 
Western forts about to be given up by Qie British.*** 

As for General Haldimand, he was quite capable of 
playing a deep game. First, he had tried to restore 
Vermont "to the King's obedience.** When he foimd 
that he coidd not do that, he began to manoeuvre in 
order to postpone evacuation. What if the States 
should disunite? It looked that way. He manoeuvred, 
too, in behalf of the loyalists. It had been stipulated 
in the peace treaty that the British should help to 
apprehend and restore runaway slaves; and that in 
turn the Americans should facUitate the payment of 
British debts. What they did was just the opposite. 
In Virginia Patrick Henry and his party prevented the 
repeal of the State laws rendering such debts imcol- 
lectable. Henry claimed that the British had not carried 
out their agreement in the matter of the runaway, or 
kidnapped, blacks ; and that, therefore, they themselves 

1 Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York* VoL Vm^ 
p. 839. 
* Frederick Haldimand was Governor-General of Canada, 
s Hommedieu to Clinton, September S, 178S. 
^ Calendar of the Correspondence of James Monroe, pp. 6%, 58. 



116 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

were not bound to be concerned about the payment of 
old debts. But the supposed stand-off was no stand-off 
at all; for the British decided to be mulish in a third 
matter — they hung on to the frontier posts. Haldi- 
mand gave as his excuse for the continued British occu- 
pation of the western territory that he had received no 
orders to evacuate. This was the matter that puzzled 
and irritated Monroe. 

In a Richmond letter, dated December 2, John 
Marshall congratulated Monroe on "a safe return to 
the Atlantic part of the world.'* John Tyler wrote 
from Richmond, November 28: "I am happy to find 
you have escaped the Indians and the British in your 
late route through Canada.'* 

Once again, next year, Monroe journeyed westward. 
This was the year known as ^^Uannee des grandes eavx^ 
In April the Mississippi rose thirty feet above any 
previous mark. There was to be a talk with the Shaw- 
nees at the mouth of the Great Miami and Monroe 
had the opportunity to go with the Indian Commission- 
ers. He had private, as well as public, reasons for mak- 
ing the trip. For a long while it was in his mind to go 
grow up with the West. The lure of the wild land was 
on him, and he liked, too, to be on horseback and out 
in the open. He invited Madison to go with him. 
He wrote his itinerary for Jefferson,^ "I intend to take 
within my view," said he, " the country lying between 
Lake Erie and the Ohio and the Potommack or Ja* 
River, as it may suit me to return by the northern or 
southern part of the State. I pass thro' Lancaster and 
Carlisle at the latter of which posts I join General 
Butler." 

The other Indian Conmiissioners were George Rogers 
Clark, Philip Schuyler, Samuel Holden Parsons and 
Robert Howe. Monroe left New York, August 24, and 
spent the fall months with the Commissioners. "But 
the danger from the Indians,'* he wrote in his next 
letter to J efferson, January 16, 1786, "made it impru- 

^ Monroe to Jefferson, New York, August 25, 1785. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 117 

dent for me to pass the river, and the delay at Fort 
Pitt, and upon the Ohio, the water being low, [in con- 
trast with iiie spring floods], consumed so much of the 
time allotted for this excursion, that I was forced to 
leave the Commiss" at Limestone and take my course 
directly through the Kentucky settlements and the 
wilderness to Richmond." He journeyed by Daniel 
Boone's route from Limestone, or Maysville, to the 
Lower Blue Licks, thence to Lexington, and reached 
Richmond November 14. He was doubly disappointed: 
he had not been present at the making of the Shawnee 
treaty — a picturesque event, well worth traveling 
through the wilderness to see; nor had he viewed as 
much of the new country as he had hoped to traverse. 

In a report to Congress based on his observations 
during this journey, Monroe said that the West con- 
tained a great deal of iminviting land. Winsor says: 
"He saw and heard enough about the coimtry to 
believe that the stories about the inordinate fertility 
of the soil were the work of the land speculators." 
But the grand attraction of the West had by this time 
seized upon the imagination of the people. One com- 
pany bought 5,000,000 acres of western land for 
$5,000,000. All through the East the talk was of the 
wonderful West. 

When Congress reassembled, late that fall of 1784, 
it was at Trenton. Writing to Madison^ from that 
town, John F. Mercer expresses regret at the ** relaxa- 
tion and inattention of the members of Congress.*' 
He added that "nothing was more ardently desired by 
the British nation than a renewal of the war with us. 
Such was the opinion of Colonel Monroe after a visit 
to Canada." In the same letter Mercer said: "The 
contributions of Virginia to the General Government 
alone keep the wheels in motion. " 

Monroe must have found his old fighting ground of 
eight years before an interesting place to revisit; but 

* Calendar of Correspondenoe of James Madison, Bureau of Rolls, VoL IV, 
p. 520. 



118 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

it is hardly likely that he had time to go over into 
Bucks. Jericho Hill was still there; and so were the 
friends he had made; but Congress soon transferred 
itself to New York. It met January 11, 1785, in the 
old City Hall, which stood on the site of the TVeasury 
Building, at Wall and Nassau Streets; and ended its 
days there March 2, 1789. 

Monroe's capacity for congressional service of the 
first importance was put to proof at New York as it 
had been at Annapolis. The Fifth Congress missed 
Madison. The Madison-Monroe correspondence in 
1784-85 contains frequent reference to the difficulties 
of the trade situation. How should commerce be 
regulated? State tariflF and tonnage laws were doing 
more harm than good. Then, too, America was lax in 
carrying out some of the provisions of the Peace 
Treaty; and this shortcoming had brought on British 
retaliation. One State wanted one thing; another, 
another. British goods were coming in too fast to suit 
New England, which, with Pennsylvania, demanded 
protection. Two of America's three famous Websters — 
Pelatiah and Noah — issued tracts in advocacy of 
better government. The vigorous-minded and patriotic 
imionist, James Bowdoin, Governor of Massachusetts, 
insisted that Congress should be vested with necessary 
powers to regulate the trade of the United States, 
"manage its general concerns, and promote the com- 
mon interest." Bancroft declares that "the nation 
looked to Congress for relief.'* Speaking especially of 
Monroe, Bancroft adds: 



"When JeflFerson embarked for France, he (Monroe), remained 
not the ablest, but the most conspicuous representative of Virginia 
on the floor of Congress. He sought the friendship of nearly every 
leading Statesman of his Commonwealth; and every one seemed 
glad to call him a friend. It was hard to say whether he was 
addressed with most affection by Jefferson or by John Marshall. 
His ambition made him jealous of (Edmund) Randolph; the 
precedence of Madison he acknowledged, yet not so but that he 
migb^ nt to become his rival. To Richard Henry Lee he 



/ 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONEOB 119 

turned aa one from whose zeal for liberty he might seek the con- 
firmation of his own. 

"Everybody in Virginia resented the restrictive policy of 
England. Monroe, elected to the Fifth Congress, embarked on 
the tide of the rising popular feeling. He was willing to invest the 
Confederation with a perpetual grant of power to regulate com- 
merce; but on condition that it should not be exercised without 
the consent of the nine States. He favored a revenue to be derived 
from imports, provided that the revenue should be collected under 
the authority and pass into the treasury of the State in which it 
should accrue. 

"He from the first applauded the good temper and propriety 
of the new Congress, the comprehensiveness of mind with whidi 
they attended to the public interests, and their inclination to the 
most general and liberal principles, which seemed to him 'really to 
promise good for the Union.' They showed the like goodwill for 
him. On bringing forward the all-important motion on commerce, 
they readily referred it to himself as the chief of the committee, 
with four associates, of whom Spaight from North Carolina, and 
Houston from Georgia, represented the South; Sang of Mass- 
achusetts, and Johnson of Coi^iecticut, the North. 

"The complaisant committee lent their names to the proposal 
of Monroe, whose report was read in Congress on the twenty-eighth 
of March. It was accompanied by a letter to be addressed to the 
Legislatures of the several States explaining and recommending it; 
and the filth day of April was assigned for its consideration. 

"But it was no part of Monroe's plan to press the matter for 
decision. Tt will be best,' so he wrote JeflFerson *to postpone this 
for the present; its adoption must depend on the several Legisla- 
tures. It has been brought so far without prejudice against it. 
If carried farther here, I fear prejudices will take place. It proposes 
a radical change in our whole system of government. It can be 
carried only through investigation and a conviction of every 
citizen that it is his right. The slower it moves, therefore, in my 
opinion, the better."^ 

Jefferson gave Monroe's "compromise proposal for 
revenue" the stamp of his approval. 

** Months passed away/' adds Bancroft: "but still 
the subject was not called up in Congress; and the mind 
of Monroe as a Southern statesman^ became shaken. 
The Confederation seemed to him at present but little 

' Bancroft's History of the Fonnation of the Constitution of the United States, 
Vol I, pp. 191-197. The corrections in the Ms. committee report are in Monroe's 
handwriting. The letters that passed between Monroe and Jefferson, Monroe and 
Madison, and Jefferson and Madison, June 1784-August, 1785, contain numerous 
references to Monroe's measure. 



120 TEDB UFE OF JAMES MONROE 

more than an ofiFensive and d^ensive alliance, and if the 
right to raise troops at pleasure was denied, merely a 
ddPensive one. His report would put the conunercial 
economy of every State entirely and permanently into 
the hands of the Union; which might protect the carry- 
ing trade, and encourage domestic industry by a tax 
on foreign industry. He asked himself if the carrying 
trade would increase the wealth of the South and he 
cited *a Mr. [Adam] Smith on the Wealth of Nations' 
as having written *that the doctrine of the balance of 
trade is a chimera. * " 

We have quoted freely on this subject because it 
helps us along with our study of Monroe. Only recently 
he was a neglected supernumerary of the Continental 
Line; now, as we see, he was deep in statecraft — 
studious, hardworking, sagacious; as circumspect and 
as full of foresight, indeed, as any of his elders. One 
of these it was to whom was now committed the cause 
of the opposition^ — Richard Henry Lee. This veteran 
lover of Virginia urged that to give Congress such 
power as Monroe proposed "would expose the five 
staple States, from tiieir want of ships and seamen, to a 
most pernicious and destructive monopoly. " 

Monroe's measure was never pushed. Monroe him- 
self deferred to the judgment of his elders. Neverthe- 
less the idea, widely discussed, helped to educate the 
public for what was bound to come. Other things were 
tending to enlighten and broaden people. Preachers 
became teachers in that they helped to efface exagger- 
ated State lines. It made no difference to a zealous 
revivalist whether he were in Connecticut or Carolina. 



^ Monroe wrote to Jefferson, New York, July 15, 1785: "The report proposing 
a change in the first para^^ph of the 9th and lOth Articles of Confederation 
hath been before Congress in a committee of the whole for two days past. The 
house was to take it up again in the same manner. It hath been fully disctissed 
and in my opinion the reasons in favor of it are conclusive. The opposition how- 
ever is respectable in point of numbers, as well as talents, in one or two instances. 
. . . Some gentlemen have inveterate prejudices against all attempts of Congresf 
to increase the powers of Congress, others see the necessity but fear the conse- 
quences/" In this letter Monroe mentions two foreigners who subsequently 
figured in American political affairs — Mazzei, and Don Diego de Gardoqui. 
The Don had just been presented to Congress. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 121 

This was a practical force, kneading in the mass, like 
other forces of democracy; and helping to convert our ' 
colonial population into true Americans. 

But, at the same time, there were contrary forces 
at work — forces that pulled apart, that tended to 
create chasms rather than to cement. Let us illustrate: 
It was in the power of Congress to select commissioners 
from its own membership for the settlement of disputes 
between any two of the thirteen States. Thus, when 
boundary trouble arose between Massachusetts and 
New York, nine judges were named to constitute a 
Federal Coiui; which was to sit in the case. Monroe 
was appointed to the coiui; and on March 21, 1785, 
accepted the judgeship. But there was a curious hitch. 
Three of the nine declined to serve. Agents of the 
States involved named three other men and requested 
that a commission be issued for a meeting of the court 
at Williamsburg, Va., on the third Tuesday of Novem- 
ber. On November 2, the agents complained of diflS- 
culties and delays on the part of the appointees and 
asked that the hearing be remitted "to such a day as 
the parties should agree upon." On May 15, 1786, 
Monroe informed Congress that "some circumstances 
would put it out of his power to act as a Judge for the 
decision of this controversy." Accordingly he 
resigned. September 27 next, the agents notified Con- 
gress that they had agreed upon a person to serve in 
lieu of Monroe. But the court never met. The case 
was settled at Hartford, Conn., by agreement, December 
16, 1786. However, Congress refused to take cognizance 
of so irregular a proceeding. 

Now what was the hugger-mugger in this mysterious 
boundary matter? John Quincy Adams breaks into 
poetry about it. In his Boston address is this passage :^ 

*^Mr. Monroe did not assign, in his letter to Congress, his 
reasons for resigning the trust which he had previously consented 
to assume. They were probably, motives of delicacy, highly 
creditable to his character; motives flowing from a source 

^ Monroe Eulogy, by John Quinpy Adams, August t5, 1881, pp. 825-S8ft. 



U^ THE UFE OF JAMES MONROE 

^B^ond the fixed and settled rules 

Of vice and virtue in the schools.' 
motives emanating from a deep and conscientious morality, of 
which men of coarser minds are denied the perception, and which, 
while exerting unresisted sway over the conduct actuated by them, 
retire into the self -conviction of their own purity. " 

Here we have more mystery; but, in his next utter- 
ance, the eloquent eulogist turns on for us a matter-of- 
fact spot light. 

''Between the period when Mr. Monroe had accepted and that 
when he withdrew from the office of a Judge between the States 
of Massachusetts and New York, discussions had arisen in Con- 
gress relating to a negotiation with Spain, in the progress of which 
varying views of public policy were sharpened and stimulated, 
bysectionalinterests, to a point of painful collision. . . . It was in 
the heat of the temper kindled by this cause of discord in the 
Federal Coimcils that Mr. Monroe resigned his commission. '' 

Notwithstanding his heat of temper over the Spanish 
menace, Monroe continued his efforts to lessen the 
governmental evils of the hour. But for the menace 
to the South, he probably would have followed Madison. 
As it was, according to Bancroft:^ 

"Monroe still loyally retained his desire that the regulation of 
commerce should be in the hands of the United States, and his 
opinion that without that power the union would infallibly tumble 
to pieces; but now he looked about him for means to strengthen 
the position of his own section of the coimtry ; and to Madison he 
wrote [September 3, 1786], *I earnestly wish the admission of a 
few additional States into the confederacy in the Southern scale.' " 

The Spanish menace, plus another menace that grew 
out of it, provoked sectional feeling in Monroe. He 
had been inclined to it by reason of State pride as early 
as 1783, when, October 19, he wrote to George Rogers 
Clark, "urging that a new State should be set up with 
the tradition of Virginia, so that the Commonwealth, 
now becoming aware of her isolation among her sisters, 
might have an efficient ally in the Federal Coimcils. '*' 

Monroe and Rufus King were appointed, August 14, 

> Bancroft's G)nititution, Vol. 11, p. 297. 

VThe Westward Movement, by Justin Winsor, 1807, p. til. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 123 

to go to Philadelphia for the purpose of acquainting 
the Legislature of Pennsylvania with the embarrassed 
state of the public finances and urging co-operation. 
King was accustomed to speak extemporaneously. 
His biographer adds: 

"In this Pennsylvania mission, however, he essayed to deliver 
a written speech, and as he was the junior^ of the two commission- 
ers, it fell to him to open the business. The scene was imposing. 
The Legislature of Pennsylvania sat in Carpenters' Hall, where 
oft and again the Continental Confess in the darkest moments 
of the war of Independence had dehberated and resolved. Many 
distinguished men sat in the Legislature, and the procedure was 
a novel one, and on that account attracted much interest. 
Mr. King had already earned a high reputation for eloquence. 
He began in all due form, but soon, tranmieled by the form of 
words he had prepared and learned, he became embarrassed, and 
after vainly struggling for a while to proceed, he turned to his 
colleague, Mr. Monroe, and begging him to take up the argument, 
sat down overwhelmed with confusion. Mr. Monroe, of more cool 
and equable temperament, and without any pretension as a 
speaker, made a calm, sensible, logical adc&ess. During this 
Mr. King was collecting himself. Rallying his powers and being, 
as he always was when he undertook to speak, master of his sub- 
ject, he determined to dismiss from his mind all thought of the 
written speech and proceed in his accustomed manner.*' 

So when Monroe sat down King* got up, gracefully 
excused himself for being disconcerted by the ^'august 
presence" of such distinguished auditors, and proceeded 
to deliver a long remembered address. 

This mission was Monroe's last important work in 
the Congress of the Confederation, from which, by the 
rotation rule, he retired on the first Monday in Novem- 
ber, 1786. 



^ This is a mistake. Rufus King was bora in Scarboroi]^, M^ne, March fi, 
1755 — nearly three yean before Monroe. 

' Rufus King gives an account of this incident in his Ms. notes. It is also noted 
in a "Sketch of Rufus King" by William Coleman in DelapUnn§*i Reposiiory. 



CHAPTER Vn 

MONBOE AND THE FEDERAL CONSTTTUTION 

We have spoken of the specie in circulation at the 
dose of the war. But hard money soon grew less 
plentiful; and, as for the paper currency of Congress 
and the States, it was of varying value — often worth- 
less. Now, it stands to reason tiiat contracts made on 
paper money basis should not have been settled by 
obligatory process in specie; yet in some sections such 
settlement was demanded. Moreover, the troubled 
world grew harsher — stern laws were passed providing 
for imprisonment for debt. Many a good husband 
and father went to prison, while wives and daughters 
wept at the bars. Jails, too, were outrageously unsani- 
tary. Beggars were told to move on, from township 
to township, from State to State. Speculators were 
out and about; and wicked enough, to be sure. "Times 
such as existed," says Justin Winsor^ "were ripe for 
the machinations of demagogues and malcontents. 
... It was almost inevitable that the Courts should 
be resisted. The mob found a leader in one who had 
been an officer in the army and had some military 
experience — Daniel Shays.'* Fortunately for New 
England and the whole country, James Bowdoin, 
Governor of Massachusetts, was a strong man. He 
put down the Shays insurrection, and order was restored. 
Incidentally, great good came out of this evil — this 
warning. It was a warning to the people of America 
to drop the old government under the articles for 
"perpetual Union,'* and adopt the kind of imion that 
would indeed be perpetual. Schouler concludes that 
the two events decisive of the coming efiFort to reform 
the Federal Government were the Shays Rebellion and 

^ Narrative and Critical History of America, Vol. VII, p. 229. 

124 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 125 

the failure of the proposed amendment for a five per 
cent import duty, for twenty-five years, so earnestly 
urged by Hamilton and Madison. Both of these 
statesmen were now out of Congress — Madison because 
of the rotation rule, and Hamilton because of a reaction 
in New York toward States' right. Clinton, who 
subsequently opposed the Constitution, was in power. 
Schouler declares that the rising conmierce of her 
metropolis made New York selfish. When the import 
amendment came before her Legislature, sitting in 
the same city with the feeble and expiring Congress of 
the Confederation, she rejected it. "One State among 
the whole thirteen blocked the wheels"; but by-and-by 
those wheels would turn again; for Madison and 
Hamilton were both yoimg, both intellectual to a high 
degree, both filled with zeal — one for a centralized 
government of the better classes; the other for a strong 
government of the whole people. For, though they 
were now working for the same object — stability 
and efficiency of government, they diflFered as to the 
form of that government, as well as to its spirit. 
Madison did not distrust the ploughman, the wood- 
chopper, the man-before-the-mast. Hamilton did. 
Men of brains should manage public affairs; clod- 
hoppers should take back seats. Madison and Monroe 
shared with Jefferson certain beliefs and hopes in the 
mass of the people, upon whom Hamilton, for his part, 
looked with condescension if not distrust. It was 
Hamilton's well-meant remonstrance to Rhode Island's 
rejection of the import plan of 1782 that caused the 
democratic-republicans to take alarm. Rives^ contrasts 
that paper with Madison's Address to the States, 
April 18, 1783. In one was "enUghtened caution'*; 
in the other, "we meet with high-toned and uncom- 
promising notions of Federal power — broad and 
startling doctrines of implication from powers expressly 
granted and a fond and constant recurrence to the 

^ Life and Times of James Madison, by William C. Bive«, 1859; 8 vols.. Vol I, 
p. 488. 



126 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

necessity of a single directing will/* That phrase 
"a single directing will" angered many a man. Whose 
will? It angered many, and it pained others — men 
like Monroe's uncle, Joseph Jones, "Washington's 
confidential friend,'' who knew how deeply hurt 
Washington himself was at such lack of discretion, 
such lack of delicacy. Madison was different. Schouler 
paints him: "Tentative and cautious by nature, and 
bearing, moreover, an important responsibility in the 
administration of afiPairs, Madison took care to conmiit 
himself in public only to what was presently feasible." 
Fortunately for America these two young statesmen, 
so unlike in character, were pulling together for a 
government worthy of the people who had won the 
Revolution. 

On March 28, 1785, joint commissioners of Maryland 
and Virginia, acting upon a suggestion made by Madison, 
met at Mount Vernon to arrange a compact in com- 
mercial matters. Washington was their host. They 
agreed to recommend uniformity in duties on imports, 
uniformity in conunercial regulations and imiformity 
in currency. Washington tiiought they might go 
further; so did Mason; whereupon the whole matter 
was reported to the Virginia Assembly. The upshot 
of the Mt. Vernon meeting was a call, issued by 
Virginia, for a gathering at Ajinapolis of commissioners 
from the thirteen States to adopt a body of commercial 
regulations. 

Madison and Monroe were both at the Annapolis 
conference which, with John Dickinson as chairman, 
was held in September, 1786. Five central States 
were represented — not enough for conclusive action; 
but a great beginning was made, because it was then 
and there determined that a Federal Constitutional 
Convention was a necessity of the age. The Commis- 
sioners agreed that Philadelphia was the place where 
the deputies could most conveniently assemble; and 
they fixed upon the second Monday in the ensuing 
May as the appropriate time for the opening session. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 127 

At Annapolis, it was really a putting-together-of- 
heads; and two of the heads that bent towards each 
other over the council table were those of Madison 
and Hamilton. These two great Constitutionalists 
were acting in concert with a third — none other than 
Washington. 

No one could have been more plain-spoken about 
the need of better government than Washington. To 
him the existing one was "a half -starved, limping 
government always moving upon crutches and tottering 
at every step." "It is as clear as A B C," said he, 
"that an extension of Federal powers would make us 
one of the most happy, wealthy, respectable and power- 
ful nations that ever inhabited the terrestrial globe. 
Without this we shall soon be everythin^g which is 
the direct reverse." 

The "legacy" left by Washington upon the dis- 
bandment of the army was a circular letter issued in 
June, 1783, to the Governor of each State. No presi- 
dential message was ever read with keener interest 
than this eloquent address "to the citizens of America, 
the sole lords and proprietors of a vast tract of con- 
tinent." He said: "The honor, power and true interest 
of the country must be measured by a continental 
scale. To form a new Constitution that will give con- 
sistency, stability and dignity to the union and sujfficient 
powers to the great council of the nation for general 
purposes, is a duty incumbent on every man who 
wishes well to his country." 

On February 16 of the same year had appeared the 
well-reasoned proposition of Pelatiah Webster to 
remodel the government; but it required the vastly 
stronger and resounding trumpet-call of the chirf 
himself to fix attention upon the theme. Yet something 
else than eloquent argument was needed. It was weU 
enough for Hamilton to talk about the "epidemic 
phrenzy " of State sovereignty; or for John Jay to cry 
out that "our distresses are accumulating like com- 
pound interest"; or for Washington to assert that "a 



128 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

nominal head, which at present is but another name 
for Congress will no longer do"; — these trenchant 
expressions were a need of the time, but practical work 
was also demanded and so was a practical man. 

As it happened, the man of the hour was Madison. 
From its state of despair, as Bancroft expresses it, 
"the country was lifted by Madison and Virginia." 
He adds, witii excusable warmth, "We now come upon 
the week glorious for Virginia beyond any event in 
its annals, or in the history of any republic that had 
ever before existed." Acting upon the suggestion of 
the conmiissioners to Annapolis, Virginia invited 
deputies of the several Legislatures to meet for the 
purpose of laying the foundations of a solid and per- 
manent government. And now, at last, we are on the 
eve of the Federal Constitutional Convention, presided 
over by Washington, whom Franklin named for the 
chair. 

The fifty-five delegates, journeying, in the main, 
on horseback, arrived from time to time; and Philadel- 
phia again felt itself to be the host of the picked men 
of the continent. Bells rang for Washington, as the 
City Troop escorted him into the city. When, on the 
fourteenth of May, the Convention met, it was found 
necessary to adjourn from day to day to await other 
arrivals. Madison, who had his heart in this greatest 
work of his life, profited by the situation. With his 
colleagues, he concerted the Virginia plan, so called; 
and arranged a tactical method of procedure. Monroe's 
rival, Edmund Randolph, then nearly thirty-four, 
of brilliant parts, but with what Bancroft calls "a 
strain of weakness in his character," was put forward 
as spokesman. In "the race for public honors," adds 
Bancroft, he had taken "the lead of Monroe." Para- 
phrasing somewhat and speaking with typically Amer- 
ican unrestraint, the historian of the Constitution* 
declares that altogether the delegates formed "the 

^ Bancroft's History of the Formation of the Constitution of the United States, 
Vol. n» p. 6, et ieq. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 1«9 

4 

»■ 

goodliest fellowship of lawgivers whereof this world 
holds record." Several were signers — Clymer, Gerry, 
Morris, Read, Sherman, Wilson, Wythe; John Rutledge 
dated from the time oiF the Stamp Act Congress and 
eighteen of the delegates had sat in the Continental 
Congress. Gouvemeur Morris had removed to Phil- 
adelphia and was a member from Pennsylvania. But 
Pennsylvania's most helpful worker was James Wilson. 
Bancroft speaks of him as "one of the wisest men in 
the Convention, if not the clearest headed constitution- 
maker.'* Mason, Dickinson, the Pinckneys and others 
of equal note took part in the great task. The small 
States fought for and secured equality in the Senate. 
The slave-holding States insisted upon a clause reckon- 
ing three-fifths of the slaves in the apportionment of 
members of the House of Representatives. The com- 
mercial States seciu^ a third compromise "which 
forbade the Federal prohibition of the slave-trade until 
1808, in consideration of new commercial facilities/'^ 

Since Monroe was not a member of the Convention, 
we are confining ourselves to the barest outline con- 
cerning its compromises and its splendid handiwork. 
No doubt it was one of the regrets of his life that he 
was not present in Independence Hall when the Con- 
stitution was framed. 

As against Madison's Virginia plan, Charles Cotes- 
worth Pinckney presented the South Carolina plan. 
These two plans were considered in committee of the 
whole till June 13, when nineteen resolutions, based 
on Madison's scheme, were favorably reported. On 
June 15 another scheme known as the New Jersey plan 
was brought forward. This was, in substance, the old 
scheme of the Confederacy. It was thrown out. Four 
resolutions were added to the nineteen; and then the 
twenty-three were referred to a committee of five 
which was to report them in the form of a Constitution. 
On July 26 the Convention adjourned to meet on the 
sixth of A ugust. 

1 Schotiler's History of the United SUtes, Vol. J. p. 41. 



150 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Monroe knew what was going on. On July 27 he 
wrote to Jefferson: " If what the Convention recom- 
mended should be rejected, they will complete our ruin. 
But I trust that the presence of GeneriJ Washington 
will overawe and keep under the demon of party, and 
that the signature of his name to the residt of their 
deUberations will secure its passage through the Union." 
He must have written something like that to his 
kinsman, William Grayson; for that worthy, less 
complaisant, wrote to Monroe, May 29: "The weight 
of General Washington is very great in America, but 
I hardly think it sufficient to induce the people to pay 
money or part with power." 

On account of the rotation rule, Monroe was no 
longer in Congress, but had returned to the Virginia 
Assembly, sitting as a member for Spottsylvania 
County. In the letter to Jefferson just quoted there 
is anoliier passage of importance. Si)eaking of Grovemor 
Edmund Randolph, he says: 

"The Governor, I have reason to believe, is unfriendly to me and 
hath shown (if I am well inform'd) a disposition to thwart me; 
Madison, upon whose friendship I have calculated, whose views 
I have favor *d, and with whom I have held the most confidential 
correspondence since you left the continent, is in strict league with 
him and hath I have reason to believe, concurr'd in arrangements 
unfavorable to me; a suspicion supported by some strong cir- 
ciunstances that this is the case hath given me great uneasiness — 
however in this I may be disappointed and I wish I may be so. 
I shall, I think, be strongly impressed in favor of and inclined to 
vote for whatever they recommend." 

From this we are not to infer that Monroe felt 
himself very mujch out of favor. Nor did his Madison 
grievance last long. Both Randolph and Mason 
refused to sign the Constitution, when the Federal 
Convention had finally framed it and referred it to 
the various Legislatures. After the adjournment, 
September 17, 1787, Monroe wrote to MacUson about 
the feeling in Virginia: "It is said that Mr. Heniy, 
General Nelson, Harrison and others are against it. 
This insures it a powerful opposition, more especially 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 181 

when associated with that of the two dissenting 
deputies." 

Certainly there would be a great struggle in Virginia 
over the Constitution. The Convention that was to 
ratify or reject was called to meet at Richmond on 
June 2, 1788. Monroe was elected as a delegate from 
Spottsylvania County. A few days before his departiure 
from Fredericksburg, he addressed a letter to his 
constituents telling them of his proposed course, and 
giving them his reasons; but a delay in printing the 
letter,^ and its inadequacy when it got into print, 
caused him to withhold it. 

Bright was the weather and gay the birdsong around 
the old Capitol when the pick of the Virginians of a 
famous generation came together to discuss Mr. 
Madison's work. The place was packed; and so, next 
day, the Convention met in the New Academy on 
Shockoe Hill, with Edmund Pendleton presiding. Much 
of the time Chancellor Wythe was in the chair. 

Madison led his own fight. With him were Randolph, 
Marshall, Pendleton, Wythe, Wilson Nicholas, George 
Nicholas, Corbin, Innes and Harry Lee. Opposed were 
Henry, Mason, Tyler, Grayson, Dawson, Harrison — 
and Monroe. Monroe made his first speech on the 
tenth of June; his second on the thirteenUi. 

In explaining why Monroe resigned as a commissioner 
of Congress in the Massachusetts-New York boundary 
case, we reproduced some pertinent passages from the 
red-letter Boston address in which John Quincy Adams 
reviewed the life and character of his subject. The 
explanation was that Monroe had become disgusted 
with the sectionalism developed during the New York 

^ A unique copy of this letter in the fonn of a small, twenty-four-page pamphlet 
was found by John P. Weiasenhagen of the Bureau of Rolls and Library, Depart- 
ment of State. Someone had written on it "Honbk James Monroe, Oak Hill, 
Loudon County, Va." Someone else had written "Mr. Monroe's pamphlet 
Convention, 1788." Li Monroe's own handwriting are the words erasures 
made in some instances improperly." It is a long essay on democracy and the 
Constitution. Hard work was put on it. This is reprinted as Appendix I, in 
Vol. I of Hamilton's Writings of Monroe. Appendix I is a reprint of Uie pamphlet* 
by Monroe, "Observations on the Federal Govenunent* sent by Monroe to 
General Washington, February 15, 1780. 



1S% THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

sessions of Congress, and in the heat of temper had 
cut loose from the court. 

By the same token, this was one reason why Monroe 
now found himself, much against his will, on the side 
of those who, at the outset, demanded amendments to 
the Federal Constitution. 

What was this old matter that made the blood boil 
and caused so many true-hearted men to fight a 
Constitution they had really longed for? 

And this brings us to the pomt where we may as 
well admit that one is apt to feel apologetically inclined 
in reviewing the personnel of the opposition. Why do 
we feel that way? When telling of Henry or Mason or 
Monroe, why do we regret that they questioned our 
great system of fundamentals in government? Armed 
cap-a-pie with all the destructive implements of hind- 
sight criticism, not a few historians assail the anti- 
Constitutionalists of 1788. But, though they are 
mercUess, we do not mind them. The thing we mmd 
is that admirers of Henry, Mason and Monroe should 
likewise regret the participation of those worthies in 
the fight against what has proved to be one of the 
most pronounced successes in the history of human 
experiment. It is plain to us now that, generally 
speaking, those who favored the Federal Constitution 
were right and those who opposed it were wrong; 
therefore, we wonder what possessed Richard Henry 
Lee, George Mason, Patrick Henry and James Monroe 
when they challenged it. Why did Lee fight it from 
the very beginning? Mason weighed it in his mind; 
and then demanded something better. No one ques- 
tions his pure patriotism, his depth of learning in that 
most diflScult of sciences — government. Why, then, 
his recusancy? Patrick Henry was long silent about 
the new Federal Government, wishing it weUL Monroe's 
imcle, Joseph Jones, heard Heniy say in the coffee- 
house at Richmond that his only reason for returning 
to the Legislature in 1784 was that he mi{^t ''strengthen 
the Federal arm.'' He was it; yet he and 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE IBS 

Monroe, also a unionist of the first water, now put 
up a poor mouth on the subject of a strong union. 
Many another able and honest man who sat in the 
hall thought as Monroe did. It is the easiest matter 
in the world to glorify the urgers and proponents of 
the Constitution, with its proven excellences, and to 
damnify those who saw fit to challenge it at the outset. 
Henry was a Missourian before Missouri was set up. 
Monroe, too, wanted to be shown. 

The simple truth is that in Virginia there was almost 
an even division of sentiment. The influence that bore 
Monroe toward the Constitution came out of himself 
and out of his loyalty to the doctrines and desires of 
JefiFerson; the influence that bore him away — aside 
from the spirit of party, powerful then as now — was 
bred by certain fears within him on account of the 
threatened occlusion of the Mississippi River; the 
great sectional spectre even then looming up and the 
negations of liberty involved in too rigid a consolida- 
tion. The mind of a man like Monroe is not incapable 
of projecting imaginary pictures upon the screen of the 
future. He must have drawn back in alarm from some 
of the sombre mind-pictures of clashing sectionalism 
visualized in his midnight ponderings.^ 

The debates lasted three weeks. Bancroft* speaks of 
the onslaughts of Henry, Mason and Grayson ** feebly 
supported by Monroe,'" and "greatly aided"' by 
Harrison and Tyler. Bancroft could not forgive 
Monroe for dropping out of step with Madison. " Day 
by day they were triumphantly encountered by Madi- 
son, on whom the defense of the Constitution mainly 
rested." Pendleton, George Nicholas, John Marshall, 
James Innes, Henry Lee and Francis Corbin all helped 
him to hold the line of battle. Everything bearing upon 



* Li a long letter to Andrew Jackaon, December. 1816, Monroe said that he 
•erred three years in the old Congress and in the new rather lon^. In each 
ke law aristocratic tendencies dangerous to democracy. Firm opposition defeated 
tin maiplotfl. 

' ^Monioe* leaving his inconsistency miexplained, was drawn toward the advcr- 
of liadison."— Bancroft's Constvtution. Vol II, p. 800. 



184 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

the subject was fought out,^ as the Constitution was 
considered clause by clause. Henry cried: "The Con- 
stitution is a severance of the Confederacy. " Randolph 
said: "The question is now between union and no 
union, and I would sooner lop ofiP my right arm than 
consent to a dissolution of the union." Monroe, with 
Henry, called for checks and balances to guard the 
liberties of the people. Marshall defended the plan for 
a judiciary. And so it went — Mason strong; Henry 
vehement; Madison, the embodiment of patience, 
alertness and practical good sense. As he very well 
knew, his strength was in his theme. 

"Mason was right in the main,'* admits Bancroft, 
"but somehow he lacked the broad-mindedness of his 
Mt. Vernon neighbor." "Mason,"* says Fitdiugh 
Lee, "desired to erect a republic whose strength at the 
centre was only great enough to carry out Qie object 
for which it was created; whUe the creator — the States 
themselves — should be left undisturbed in the exercise 
of all power not specified as having been relinquished. 
He had a full appreciation that the safety of the State 
was the safety of the imion. He was the champion of 
the State and of the people. " He wanted a one-term, 
seven-year President; no property-qualification and 
no counting of slaves alongside freemen as a basis of 
representation. He advocated the "emancipation of 
slaves, or power to prevent slavery's increase. " Limi- 
tations should be put upon the power of Congress as 
well as upon that of the executive. 

Henry excelled himself in the closeness, cogency and 
force of his reasoning if not his eloquence, which was 
indeed of that same magical quality characteristic of 
one of the greatest of orators. He was bound to put 
this new thing through fire; and if the gods had given 
it down, as its sponsors said they had, it would stand 
the fire — yes, it would be all the better for it. He 



1 JonatliAn Elliot's Debates* Vol m, p. 23, et tea. For Monroe's two speeches 
•ee Debates of the Convention of ^^ginia by David Robertson, p. 154. 
* Rowland's Mason, Vol. I. p. viiL 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 1S5 

wanted purification by fire; he wanted amendments — 
he demanded amendments. The "awful squinting of 
the new government " alarmed him — this government 
with consolidating tendencies. "It squints toward 
monarchy, " he cried. In thus harping upon the danger 
of a return to kingcraft, he played a tune very sweet 
in the ears of Jefferson, Grayson, Monroe, Richard 
Henry Lee and others of the democratic-republican 
movement.^ 

Monroe agreed with Henry* as to the dangers of 
consolidation. He thought he could foresee the time 
when the country might fall under the yoke. He 
dreaded the idea of a king. A President once elected 
might secure his own re-election for life. He dreaded 
the idea of conflict between the State and national 
authorities. "He loved the Union,** says Howison, 
"and believed that the States loved the Union; but 
he thought their government ought to be strictly a 
union of the States and not a melting together of the 
people. He believed democratic independencies might 
safely confederate. The great leagues of the world 
passed in review before him; the Amphictyonic, the 
Achaean, the Germanic, the Swiss Cantons. . . • He 
compared the Confederation and the Constitution: 



^ Living senerations after the monarchical danger is past, men of today wonder 
at those who suffered from kdng-on-the-brain. Yet it was, and is, an actual 
obsession. Old John Tyler, of Virginia, was as much a king^hater as Wat. To 
Lee, Monroe and Tyler, history seemed a long record of misery wroujg^t by kings 
and their tools. America must go Idngless and be happy. R. H. L^ in a letter 
to Monroe, Chantilly, January 5, 1784 "fears our country will lose those blessbigi 
of hberty so arduously labored to secure." Why a standing armv? Let Um 
people protect the frontiers. Grayson's home was in Dumfries, and on his untimehr 
death in 1790, he was buried in the family vault of "Belle Air," the seat oi hu 
brother, the Rev. Spence Grayson, rector of Dettingen parish. Prince William 
County. When Grayson's house at Dumfries was burned, valuable papers were 
lost. 

> Wythe, Virginia Debates, 1788, p. 446; Wirt's Life of Henry, p. 210; Howi- 
son*s Virginia, p. 827. "James Monroe argued against the system (d electioii 
which was destmed twice to make him President. ' — Formation of the UnioOt 
by Albert Bushnell Hart. Li "The Era of Good Feeling," Harper's Maaanns, 
Vol. LXVIU, pp. 936-956, Thomas Wcntworth Higginson compares what Monroe 
said in the Virginia Convention with what he said when he was President, OD 
internal improvements. Li 1788 he thought the country between Uie Atlsoitie 
and Pacific "too extensive to be governed but by a despotic monarchy;" in 188t» 
he thought "the American system capable of iKpaiision over a vast tenitoiy.'* 



15t THE LIFE OP J AXES MONROE 



add to the first mhnhite power o^er oommeroe and he 
would i^^irove it; take away from the hist the power of 
direct taxes and he would iq^xove it. This ri^^t to 
tax the pecqile was the point I^ dreaded^: how could a 
few r q Htac ntatives from a coontiy covering neariy a 
millkm square miles tell what would be most suitable 
subjects for taxaticm; what would least <^^ress and 
what would be best endured? 

Suddenly, <m the thirteoith of June, Patridc Henry 
played his best card: he called on Monroe, as a member 
ci the Sixth Congress familiar with its secret proceed- 
ings to teU the people of Viiginia a strange tale that 
was bound to startle than. 

There is no doubt that Hemy himself had been 
shocked, as weU as startled, by this same matter when 
Monroe had revealed it to him in a letter ' dated New 
York, August 12, 1786. Up to the moment of the 
receipt of the letter, Hemy had favored constitutional 
reform; thereafter he watdied its progress with suspi- 
cion.* 

The strange matter was this: Don Diego de Gardoqui, 
diplomatic representative from Spain, arrived in New- 
York in the early summer of 1785. " We take his stile, " 
wrote Monroe to Madison, July 12, "from his letter of 
credence (from the King of Spain) and call him Encar- 
gado de Negocios. He is a polite and sensible man." 
In numerous letters to Jefferson, Monroe refers to 
Gardoqui. John Adams had met him in Spain. So had 
Jay. John Quincy Adams wrote of him July 20, 1785: 
"At tea this afternoon, at Mr. Ramsay's,* I met Mr. 
Gardoqui. His complexion and looks show suflSciently 
from what country he is. How happens it that revenge 
stares through ^e eyes of every Spaniard? IVL*. 

i Wythe, Virginia Dcbatea, 155-158-159; «08. 

*The original of thii letter, presented by Henry'i grandson, William Wirt 
Henrv, u now in the National Archives. 

* Henry "exerted himself to d^eat the |>ropofled treaty in so far as it provided 
for the relinquishment of the Mississippi. ' — Life, Correspondence and Speeches 
of Patrick Henry by William Wirt Henry, 8 vols.. Vol. U, p. 201. 

^ Griswold's Republican Court, p. 76. Rama«y, the historian was a member 
of Congress from South Carolina. 



THE UFE OF JAMES MONROE 137 

Gardoqui was veiy polite and enquired much after my 
father.'* 

Gardoqui and John Jay» Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 
soon put their heads together with the purpose of 
arranging a treaty. Jay was skilled in the art of treaty- 
making — Congress knew that. "But in Gardoqui," 
says A. C. McLaughlin, "Jay found a foeman worthy 
erf his steel. "* **The wily Spaniard, proving the feeble- 
ness of Congress, probably aware of tiie intrigues on the 
frontier, and conscious that no harm could come to the 
Spanish cause by delay, so long as Spain actually held 
the country in dispute, was unyielding to the last 
degree. . . . Jay was instructed to insist on the recog- 
nition of the thirty-first parallel and the free navigation 
of the Mississippi to its mouth, rights guaranteed by 
the treaty with England. Over this question he and 
Gardoqui debated and puzzled until Jay was weary."* 
Worse still ! Some of the Eastern leaders, in so far from 
considering the interests of the Southwest, threatened 
to secede unless given what they sought. According 
to Monroe," there was a party who advocated a disso- 
lution of the Confederation on other grounds. Its 
object was to break up the settlements on the western 
waters; "to throw the weight of population eastward 
and keep it there"; in short, to hold on to the govern- 
ment in the East. 

"In conversations at which I have been present," 
wrote Monroe, "the eastern people talk of a dismem- 
berment so as to include Penna. (in favor of wh. I 
believe th e present delegation. Petit and Bayard, who 

* The Confederation and the Constitution (The American Nation, Vol. X, 
p. M). See Jay, Correspondence and Public Papers, Vol. III. Secret Joumalt 
of Congress, III. p. 56d-586, IV, 87-110; also (paper) VIII. for 1785. 86 and 87; 
Bancroft's Constitution. II, p. 29S. ei teg.; Eulogy oi John Quincy Adami^ pp. 
ttff-«S2. 

' For the Motion of the Dele^tes of Virginia, drawn by Monroe, on the sub 
jeet of Spain and the Mississippi, see Writings of James Monroe, by S. M. Hamil* 
ton. Vol. I, pp. Iviii and liv. 

*" Monroe was uneasy at this time concerning the projects of Jay and his 
party. He saw in them an attempt to break up the Union, and he wrote to the 
prominent men in Virginia to ascertain and influence their views on the subject.*' 
— George Mason, Rowland, VoL II, p. 25. His letten were to Maaoo, Hemy 
and Madison* 



138 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

are under the influence of Eastern politics, would be) 
and sometimes all the States south of the Potomac."^ 
Jay, a patriot, a statesman, was under heavy pres- 
sure. Finally he agreed to the occlusion of the Missis- 
sippi for twenty-five years, in consideration of certain 
trade advantages. He was uninformed as to the great 
growth of the Southwest. As it happened, the advan- 
tages would accrue to the northern and eastern States; 
the disadvantage would be felt by the Southwest, and 
by the Kentucky district of Virginia. That State under 
its charter readied westward as far as the Father of 
the Waters. Monroe regarded the Mississippi as a 
Virginia river; or at least, as half Virginian, since it 
washed the back-country boundary. We do not mean 
that Monroe went into all these details. He general- 
ized; and that, too, in his accustomed manner — 
guardedly, and without offense. Nor did he tell the 
Convention how he and his fellow-workers in the five 
southern States had attempted to overreach Gardoqui. 
As a matter of fact* they had arranged quite a little 
counterplot. They approached the French Charge 
d* Affaires J who was in correspondence with the French 
Ministry. This was Louis Guillaume Otto,* who wrote 
to the Comte de Vergennes: "In the midst of this (Jay- 
Gardoqui) fermentation the leaders of this party came 
to me to explain to me the necessity of having recourse 
to your good oflSces, and of putting this negotiation 
wholly into the hands of his Majesty ** — Louis XVI. 
They wished Vergennes and Jefferson to take up the 
subject. France could bring pressure to bear on Spain. 
France was reminded that there was danger lest 
England should get a grip in the great back country to 
everybody's detriment. They wanted an open Mis* 

^ All this was "proposed by a set of men so flagitious, unprincipled, and deter- 
mined in their pursuits*' as to satisfy Monroe that they had extended their views 
to the dismemberment of the government. W. W. Henry's Patrick Henry, 
Vd. n, p. 2»7. 

' Otto to Vergennes, New York, August 23, and September 10, 1786; Monroe 
to Madison, New York, August SO and September 3. 

* L^ter Comte de Mosloy. He married a New York beUe, Miss livingBion. 
a relative of Mrs. John Jay. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 189 

sissippi for flatboats to New Orleans, which should 
be an entrepAt for exports only, dutiable at two and one- 
half per cent ad valorem and to be shipped thence in 
French, Spanish or American bottoms. Let Jefiferson 
negotiate at Madrid. Go over Gardoqui^s head. There 
was more than one way of skinning a cat. "It is pos- 
sible," concluded Otto in his letter to Vergennes, "that 
the passion of the delegates who spoke with me may 
have led them to exaggerate some details." We may 
imagine this scene — in lower Manhattan, late in 
summer; eager-faced delegates, closeted with the cool 
and collected diplomat, to whom they revealed their 
plan for circumventing the wily Spaniard. There were 
occurrences, no doubt, that Monroe had no wish to 
speak of. The leading facts were all he need bring out. 
These surely were significant enough — these would do. 
Congress had voted, June 8, 1784, that the free 
navigation of the Mississippi was a sine qua non to a 
reciprocity treaty. In May, 1786, Congress had 
appointed a committee of three to confer with Jay, 
King, Pettit and Monroe. In August of that year Jay, 
backed by King and Pettit and opposed by Monroe, 
reported in favor of the occlusion of the Mississippi 
for twenty-five years. This was what Gardoqui wanted. 
Washington said he could not understand why. It 
would be better, he said, to make New Orleans "a free 
mart." Madison was equally displeased. "Monroe," 
says Justin Winsor,^ "fancied he saw in the opposition 
of New York a purpose to profit by the closing of the 
river so as to gain time to develop the western com- 
munication by the Hudson. " Then, in 1786, Congress, 
in secret session, repealed its instructions to Jay. The 
repeal was not published. Congress was ashamed to 
publish it. This, then, was Monroe's tale as told before 
the Convention at Henry's behest. To an inflamed mind 
here was dramatic material by no means comic; a 
villain, a very Mephisto of a Don; a plot — a sinister 
Spanish p lot; a barter, a most piratical barter; betrayal 

^ The Westward Movement, p. 348. 



140 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

in the house of one's friends; with secession — ugly 
word — as the sequel; and, finally, the fiery Henry in 
the role of chorus, if not avenger! 

As a matter of fact, there was no unseemliness in the 
presentation of the matter to the Virginia Convention. 
Let Grigsby^ tell of the scene: 

**The speech of Monroe was well received. It made upon the 
House a strong unpression, which was heightened by tiie modesty 
of his demeanor, by the sincerity which was reflected from every 
feature of his honest face, and by the minute knowledge which he 
exhibited of a historical transaction of surpassing interest to the 
South. But if the impression was felt by the members generally 
it was felt most keenly by those who were anxious about the sales 
of their crops and for the prosperity of their families. The mem- 
bers from the West were furious. Th^ had just learned for the 
first time the imminent hazard to which their most valued privi- 
lege had been exposed, and they did not conceal their indignation. '* 

Grayson followed Monroe and endorsed what he had 
said. But Madison had one advantage over them — he 
had been in Congress later than either. He could give 
reassuring news. Congress had put an end to the talk 
about the occlusion of the Mississippi. It had resolved 
"That the free navigation of the river Mississippi is a 
clear and essential right of the United States. "^ Not 
only so, but it had put an end to the Jay-Gardoqui 
negotiations and referred the whole matter to the new 
government under the Federal Constitution. Eastern 
opinion had changed — was now friendly. Thus did 
Madison meet the issue upon which Henry and Monroe 
had relied to win the day.* 

And so the debates proceeded. Once Henry arose 
to catastrophic and spectacular heights. It was in the 
old Capitol, in June, at the close of a hot day, suddenly 
and ominously darkened by a thundercloud about to 
burst. Henry surpassing himself, a master-tragedian, 
enacting the downfall of his country, put upon his 

^ ^Btory of the Virginia Convention of 1788, by Hugh Blair Grigiby, p. 240; 
Writings of James Monroe, S. M. Hamilton, Vol. I, pp. 189-102. 

* SeCTet Journal of Congress, September 16, 1788. 

* It did win the members from the Kentucky district Ten of fourteen voted 
against ratification. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 141 

audience a spell too tense to bear. Speech and storm 
reached their climax together. "The effect could not 
be borne; the members arose in confusion, and the 
meeting was dissolved." 

Virginia finally ratified, but by a close vote — a 
majority of ten in a total of one himdred and sixty- 
eight. The honors went to Madison, though everyone 
felt that Washington's influence had been a powerful 
help to him. But deeper than personal influence and 
deeper than anything in the debates was the genuine 
union sentiment throughout the State. The people 
ratified the Constitution because they wanted it. 

However, Henry and his helpers made a powerful 
impression. They were responsible for certain of the 
amendments made at the very outstart of the Federal 
Government. 

Many, like Monroe, who had opp>osed the Federal 
Constitution at once accepted it. Indeed, it was not 
long before Monroe was in the new Congress. Others 
required more time to become reconciled to the change 
in government. A great force to this end were the 
papers that appeared in the Independent Gazetteer^ a 
New York daily, under the title of " The Federalist. " 
They were all signed "Publius," but Hamilton wrote 
fifty-one of them; Madison, twenty-nine; and Jay, five. 
Issued in book form, they were read everywhere and 
with excellent effect. 



CHAPTER Vm 
Marriage — Making His Wat 

"You will be surprised to hear," wrote Monroe to 
Jefiferson (under date of New York, May 11, 1786) 
"that I have formed the most interesting connection in 
human life, with a young lady in this town. As you 
know my plan was to visit you before I settled myself. 
But having formed an attachment to this young Lady 
(a Miss Kortright, the daughter of a gent" of respect- 
able character and connections in Qiis State, tho* 
injured in his fortunes by the late war) I have foimd 
that I must relinquish all other objects not connected 
with her. We were married ab' three months since. 
I remain here untill the fall at w*. time we remove to 
Fredericksbg* in Virg". where I shall settle for the 
present in a house prepared for me by Mr. Jones, to 
enter into the practice of the law. '*^ 

New York society had strong attractions for young 
men in the government service. "More than one 
member of Congress from other States," says the 
Memorial History of that city, (Vol. III. p. 20) "found 
their future partners within the charmed circle. James 
Monroe, the future President, married the daughter of 
Laurence Kortright; Rufus Bang, of Boston, the 
daughter of John Alsop;* and Elbridge Gerry, the 



^ Monroe had notified his uncle of his engagement to Miss Elizabeth Kortright, 
and had received from Judge Jones a long letter, filled with avuncular advice and 
kindness. He hinted that, should his nephew need accommodation, it would be 
his. The postscript of a letter from Monroe to Madison, New York, February 11, 
1786, nms: *'If you visit this place shortly I will present you to a young lady 
who will be adopted a citizen of Virg^. in the course of this week." Miulison, 
then a bachelor, wrote to Monroe from Orange, March 19, congratulating him on 
his marriage. 

* She was Maria Alsop. Mrs. Mary A. Patrick, a great-nieoe of John Alsop, 
in a letter to Charles King (Life of Rufus King, I, p. ISO) says: "The ceremony 
was performed by Bishop Provoost and Congress being in session in New York 
and the bridegroom belonging to it, many of its members attended it; among 

142 




IVIrs. James Monroe 

Seat, tbt cclebntFd iniDiituriBt. psinted this on 17017. white tbe UonrdM were in Puii In ITM 
Hr. Hnnroc thought tbt world of it~i true likencu. with ill the charm of Seni'iciquiaiU coloring 




Eliza Kurtrioht Monroe (Mrs. Hay) 

cldiT or the two dauglitrrt i>[ JaRin Monroe und hia wife, ftbc Hurried Jud» 
Uciinwnd. Vn.. nnd, slicn .iduwed. rtturped to P>rL.. where she died ud where >Ee 
ptvlTBJt, [uiiited Ijy C'Driison. ia un ivory. The pItotogTRph ia tram the w\%\a^. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 143 

daughter of James Thompson, who is so flatteringly 
referred to as ' the most beautiful woman in the United 
States.* A visitor at Colonel William Duer*s house 
states that he lived in the style of a nobleman, and had 
fifteen diflFerent sorts of wine at dinner. His wife. 
Lady Kitty, daughter of General Lord Stirling, late 
of the Continental Army, and a person of most accom- 
plished manners, was observed to wait upon the table 
from her end of it, with two servants in livery at her 
back. But it has been estimated that less than three 
hundred families affected society life at this time, and 
these were of different grades." In fact, while many 
lived well, they were usually at pains not to ape either 
nobles or nabobs. Philip Livingston, the Signer, was 
a merchant. Barrett, searching an old advertisement, 
discovered that Philip Livingston sold needles, tea, 
kettles and cheese. 

The Kortrights and Gouvemeurs had long been 
known as substantial Manhattan families. Cornelius 
Jansen Kortright, bom in Beest, Gelderland, 1645, 
came over in 1663.^ Cornelius Kortright, merchant, 
married Hester Cannon, sister of another equally 
successful merchant, John Cannon. Up bright and 
early on Easter Monday morning, 1743, Cornelius, 
walked down to Kortright^s wharf, on the East River 
to look after one of his vessels. It was a holiday, and 
the crew had deserted. "The wind,** says Walter 



others James Monroe and Elbridge Gerry. The youth, beauty and fortune of 
the bride had made her a great belle, and her marriage was a serious disappoint- 
ment to many aspirants. The wedding was very splendid. Six bridesmaids 
attended on the bride of whom my mother was one, and at the supper was pro- 
duced for the first time wine which had been purchased and put aside at the birth 
of the bride for this very occasion.'* The pipe containing it, being bricked up, 
had escaped the British K>Idiers who occupied this William Street house; but th^r 
made booty of an iron chest in which were plate and Mrs. Alsop's diamonds. Aware 
that a pair of pistols would explode if the chest were pried open the British took it 
to London to have it opened there. 

^According to Walter Barrett's '*01d Merchants," p. 25, "the Kortrights 
came to New York in a different way from the old Dutcn settlers." The Kort- 
right and '* other Dutch families, such as the Romaines, went to Rio Janeiro, 
in Brazil, with Prince Maurice. They expected to remain and hold that country. 
They built forts, but finally they swapped off with the Portuguese for Surinam 
and Curacoa. Some of the Dutch would not remain, but came to New York." 



144 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Barrett,^ ^'was blowing very fresh. He found the cabin 
windows in danger of being stove to pieces. While 
endeavoring to secure them, his head and body being 
out of the window, the brig was driven so violently 
against the wharf as to dash his brains out. He was 
taJcen home a lifeless corpse — in less than one hour's 
absence from perfect health to a silent, mangled, lifeless 
corpse ! " 

Hester Cannon Kortright, thus widowed with six 
young children, a beautiful woman much courted,^ 
went into business for herself, raised her family and, 
having survived the burning of the house over her 
head by the British, died in 1784 — two years before 
Monroe married her granddaughter, Elizabeth. 

Of the famous widow's two sons, Cornelius married 
Miss Hendricks, owner of the "Golden Rock Planta- 
tion" in the island of Santa Cruz, celebrated for its 
scenic^ charms; and one of their granddaughters, a 
daughter of Thomas Willing of PhUadelphia, married 
Baring (later Lord Ashburton) of Baring Brothers, 
London. 

The other son of the widow Kortright was Lawrence, 
"one of the executors of the rich John Schermerhom " ; 
and closely associated with two other money-making 
merchants — Luke Van Ranst and Isaac Sears. 
Lawrence fitted out many privateers in the French 
and Indian war and became a commercial magnate. 
He was "a part owner" of the ships, all of which 
belonged to joint-stock companies. He was one of the 
foimders of the New York Chamber of Commerce in 
1770. 

Kortright, N. Y. was named for him. It was built on 
ground originally bought with the purpose of establish- 
ing Kortright Manor, after the custom set by some of 



1 In the Old Merchants of New York City, by Walter Barrett, Clerk, Fourth 
Series, 1866, p. 19. 

' Hester Cannon Kortright was a daiuditer of "Old Jan Cannon, merchant, 
who married Maria, daughter of Peter Le Grand. John, second, a sea-going 
captain, owned a dock and had a store facing it." "The eldest son," says Bimrett 
in "Old MerchanU" "was the celebrated Le Grand Cannon." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 145 

the neighbors, such as the Livmgstons,^ Van Cortlandts 
and Van Renssaelers. 

Lawrence Kortright married Hannah Aspinwall. 
They had one son, Captain John, and four daughters: 
Mrs. James Monroe, Mrs. Nicholas Gouvemeur, Mrs. 
Thomas Knox* and Mrs. Captain Heyleger. 

The Gouvemeurs, so closely associated with the 
Kortrights and Monroes through more than a hundred 
years of history, were in New York as early as 1700. 
Abraham Gouvemeur married a daughter of Jacob 
Leisler, hanged for treason. Nicholas, husband of Mrs. 
Monroe's sister, was the most celebrated of the Gouver- 
neurs. He was head of the house of Gouvemeur, 
Kemble & Co. Gouvemeur Street was named after 
him, and so was Gouvemeur's Lane. Of his three sons, 
Isaac was killed in a duel with William H. Maxwell; 
Nicholas, the youngest, lived a bachelor till 1854; and 
Samuel L. married his cousin, Mari$i, second daughter 
of President Monroe. 

Aside from his high standing as a delegate in Con- 
gress, Monroe had various recommendations to the 
good graces of the hospitable New Yorkers. He was 
well known, it seems, to the popular Miss Catherine 
Van Zandt, a refugee at Morristown, and greatly 
esteemed by the Continental oflBcers, some of whom 
danced at her wedding. She married James Homer 
Maxwell, in 1788; and long treasured a compliment paid 
to her as a bride by Washington himself. 

Altogether it was a delightful winter for Monroe. 
It was a broadening winter also, since he was much in 



* Judge Henry Brockholst Livingston (died 1823), married Captain John Kort- 
right 's widow, who as a maiden was Catherine Seamen. She had two sets of 
diildren. Captain John, Mrs. Monroe's brother, who died May 28, 1810, left 
six children — John of Staten Island; Edmond, who married Miss Shaw; Dr. 
Robert, a bachelor and Gouvemeur Kortright who married Miss Allaire, of Win- 
chester, Va. 

* Thomas Knox was a noted merchant. Of the two children, Gouvemeur Knox 
died in 1812; the daughter, Blrs. Alexander Hamilton, lived long. Barrett wrote 
in 1866: " Alexander Hamilton is still alive. Had he been the son of a John Smith 
he would have been one of the most eminent men of the day. A great father is 
a heavy load for a son to cany. The sons of Clay, Webster, Calhoun, Van Buren 
**were really above mediocrity but the public placed them below it.'' 



»» 



146 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

the company of men with a wide horizon. Spanish 
matters were up; and he heard a great deal about 
Spanish America and the West Indies from the Kort- 
rights and Gouvemeurs and others. Indeed it may be 
here set down that his New York connections and 
associations helped him along the course he was des- 
tined to take. 

It so happened that Benjamin Franklin was in New 
York on business. Monroe made friends with the great 
doctor. "He was so kind as to favor me frequently 
with his company," wrote the younger man, mudi 
gratified that chance had given hun an opportunity he 
had longed for.^ 

About this time Monroe and Madison tried to con- 
cert a plan to invest in lands on the Mohawk. "Both 
of us have visited that district and were equally charmed 
with it, " wrote Madison to Jefferson, August 12, 1786. 
"In talking of this country sometime ago with General 
Washington he considered it in the same light with 
Monroe and myself, intimating that if he had the 
money to spare and was disposed to deal in land, this 
is the very spot which his fancy had selected out of all 
the U.S." 

Though, in the main, his private affairs were as he 
would wish them, Monroe was dissatisfied with the 
progress of public events. It was his Gardoqui summer. 
He wrote to Jefferson, October 12: "I sit out [sic] 
tomorrow for Virginia with Mrs. Monroe^ by land — 

^ October 6, 1781, Jefferson gave Monroe a letter of introduction to Franklin, 
then at Passy. Monroe, he said, had distinguished himself in the American army. 
He was '*a man of abilities, merit and fortune'* and his own *' particular friend." 
Monroe ** having resumed his studies comes to Europe to complete them." Monroe 
abandoned this European plan. 

* According to Lippinootfa Magazine, Vol. ^ P> 359, Monroe and his bride 
were entertamed at the house of an eccentric Kichmond lady. Small labia 
were distributed about the parlor. In came a fat negro cook, "holding before 
her an immense trav of batter, while behind her came a negro boy with two a 
three pairs of long-handled waffle-irons. Nothing abashed by that goodly com- 
pany, the old cook walked straight up to the fireplace where a wood filre waa 
Duming and then and there proceeded to make her waffles with a dexterity, 
quickness and perfection which some other Virginia cooks might have equalled 
but which none could surpass. They were served 'pot and hot* with supert 
butter and other accompaniments, and enjoyed intensdy by all present, but b] 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 147 

my residence will be for the present in Fredericksburg 
— my attention is turned to Albemarle for my ultimate 
abode — the sooner I fix there the more agreeable it 
will be to me. I sho*d be happy to keep clear of 
the bar if possible and at present I am wearied with 
the business in w'h I have been engaged. It has been 
a year of excessive labor and fatigue and unprofitably 
so. " 

From Fredericksburg he wrote to Jefferson of his 
admission that fall to the bar of the Courts of Appeal 
and Chancery. In April he was admitted to practice 
in the General Court. His uncle had accommodated 
him with a house in Fredericksburg.^ " Mrs. Monroe, " 
he wrote to Jefferson, July 27, 1787, "hath added a 
daughter* to our society who tho' noisy, contributes 
greatly to its amus'ment. She is very sensibly impressed 
with your kind attention to her and wishes an oppor- 
tunity of showing how highly she respects and esteems 
you. *' 

Both Jefferson and Madison went out of their way 
to befriend the Monroes. Madison, in New York, 
advanced the money necessary to ship the Monroe 
furniture from that city to Fredericksburg. Subse- 
quently, in apologizing to Madison for not having 
remitted, Monroe said that his money was locked up 
in debts not readily collectible. 

It was Jefferson's oft-repeated wish that Monroe 
might move close to Monticello. Monroe himself was 
equally desirous of becoming Jefferson's neighbor. So 
in the fall of 1788, he exchanged some Western lands, 
valued at £2500, for a farm that had been improved by 
Colonel George Nicholas, on the Rockfish Gap road. 



none more than Mr. Monroe. The lady of the house confessed that the prooeed- 
ing was rather odd. ' But,' said she, ' I knew Mr. Monroe — poor man! — hadn't 
had any waffles fit to eat since he Idft Virginia; and I was determined he should 
have some. And what account are waffles if they*re not hot? and what's the 
use of eating if you can't sit down and eat comfortably like a Christian?' '* 

^ Twenty-two letters written by Joseph Jones to his nephew, during 1786 and 
1787. are preserved in the Monroe collection at Washington. They relate to 
money matters and private business a£Pairs. 

' l^imtk Monroe, who became the wife of Judge George Hay of Virginia. 



148 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

near Charlottesville. He wrote to Jefferson about it, 
and to Madison also.^ 

In the frosty weather of that same fall he and Madi- 
son engaged in a lively political set-to for a seat in the 
First United States Congress. Monroe wrote to 
Jefferson, February 15, 1789: 

*;This Commonwealth was divided into districts from each of 
which a member was to be plac'd in the House of Representatives. 
A Competition took place in many, and in this, consisting of 
Albemarle, Amherst, Goochland, Louisa, Spotsylva, Orange and 
Culpeper, between Air. Madison and myself. '* 

There have been hundreds of exciting congressional 
elections, but was there ever another quite as curious 
as this? In the first place, Patrick Henry, a p)ower in 
p>olitics, had thrown Madison down. His philippic 
against him was the talk of the State, or would have 
been so if the State had not preferred to talk of the way 
Henry had elevated Richard Henry Lee and William 
Grayson to be the first United States Senators over 
the heads of all champions of the Constitution, Madison 
included. In the next place, Henry was accused of 
having gerrymandered against Madison, in favor of 
Monroe; and this, too, before he had heard of Mr. 
Gerry's manipulation in Massachusetts. French 
Strother, an Assemblyman for nearly thirty years, a 
member of the Convention of 1776 and of the Con- 
vention of 1788, an opponent of the Federal Constitu- 
tion, "was solicited to oppose Mr. Madison for Con- 
gress, but Mr. Monroe became the candidate instead. ** 
The candidates rode from courthouse to courthouse 
making speeches to great crowds. As for the picturesque 
electorate: "These people,*] says Dr. Slaughter 
"seem to have had a gay time — dining parties of 



^Jefferson wrote to Madison, February 20, 1784: "I hope you have found 
access to my hbrary. I beg you to make free use of it. The steward is Hving 
there now, and of course wilTalways be in the way. Monroe is buying land ahnost 
adjoining me. Short will do the same. What would I not give could you fall in 
the circle. With such society, I could once more venture home, and lay myself up 
for the residue of life, — quitting all its contentions, which grow daily more and 
more insupportable." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 149 

twenty-five to thirty from house to house; quilting 
parties, winding up with a dance; balls at Sanford's, 
Bell's and Aleocke's hotels in the winter varied with 
hare, fox, and wolf-hunting, especially when Major 
Willis and Hay Taliaferro came up with twenty hoimds. 
In the summer they had fish-fires and barbecues. • . . 
Colonel (Frank) Taylor seems never to have missed 
an election ; he always records the names of the candi- 
dates for oflBce and the number of votes for each. He 
brings before us Mr. Madison as candidate for Congress, 
Assembly and Convention, addressing the people in 
defence of the Constitution, to which the ignorant were 
opposed. He is said to have spoken from the steps of 
the old Lutheran Church, now in Madison, with the 
people standing in the snow, and the cold so intense 
that the orator's ears were frost-bitten. "^ 

It would have been slight consolation to Madison 
even if he could have foreseen that his ears would be 
warm enough later on from the thousand and one 
derogatory, not to say spiteful, things said of him, both 
by word of mouth and with partisan pens dipped in 
nutgall. Monroe was badly beaten. In his own words, 
Madison "prevailed by a large majority of about 800." 
He adds: "It would have given me concern to have 
excluded him. " 

Madison's fear had been lest the Constitution should 
be ruined with nugatory amendments. Hence his 
eagerness to go to Congress ; and very great joy, despite 
frostbitten ears, that he had overthrown Monroe. 

The old Congress circulated broadsides naming the 
first Wednesday in January, 1789, as the day upon 
which presidential electors should be chosen; the fijrst 
Wednesday in February for their meeting and the first 

^ A History of St. Mark's Parish, Culpeper County, Va., by Rev. Philip Slau^ter, 
D.D., 1877. Another Virginia chronicle tells us that in oitler to get out the votes 
Madison's friends sent wagons around. At one poUing place a very old man* 
brouj^t from a long ways off, stood listening to the talk in favor oi Madison. 
He pricked up his ears at mention of Monroe. "Is he," asked the old fellow, 
"a son of Spence Monroe who lived in Westmoreland yean back?" "Yes." 
"Then I'll vote for Monroe. His grandfather befriended me — fed me, shelteied 
me^ clothed ma. I do not know James Madis on ; I vole for James Monroe.'* 



150 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Wednesday in March as the beginning of the new 
government. 

As for the head of it, who should be chieftain but the 
chief himself? But he did not take hold on time. 
Though John Adams, the choice for Vice-President, 
qualified April 20, Washington, the unanimous choice 
for President, was not inaugurated until April 30. 

It soon became plain to such close observers as Mon- 
roe that Washington's aim would be to conciliate. 
Jefiferson was made Secretary of State, and his political 
opposite, Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury. Knox 
was Secretary of War; Edmund Randolph, Monroe's 
old rival. Attorney General; and Jay, Monroe's old 
antagonist of the Spanish treaty, became first Chief 
Justice. 

As for Madison, he was leader of the new House of 
Representatives. Altogether the various States had 
suggested seventy-eight amendments. Of these, Madi- 
son brought forward seventeen, embodying the ideas 
hammered out in the fierce contests ; these were reduced 
to ten by the action of the Senate, and the ten became 
a part of the basic law of the land. They went into 
effect November 3, 1791. Eight were practically a 
reiteration of the bill of rights that had been insisted 
upon by those who thought as Monroe did. So with 
Jefiferson in the Cabinet, and an amended Constitution, 
Monroe could well afiford to rest easy. 

Washington had a deep purpose in organizing a non- 
partisan administration. All must be committed to the 
new government; all must go along together for a time, 
even if by-and-by they should split apart on party lines. 
He conciliated Patrick Henry — they were friends 
again; and died as such. The man who had defeated 
the machinations and broken the cabals of political 
generals in war time could be trusted to know politics. 
But now he hoped for less politics; or, at least, for a 
surcease until the government should be established. 
And really there was such a truce. It lasted for a long 
while. Many besides Washington wished it and 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 161 

prayed for it. Nor should there be any stint of praise 
for those who lent themselves to this patriotic purpose. 
Hamilton was proud; yet he could sit cooped up with 
Jefferson, whose complaisance certainly was praise- 
worthy. Soon enough would oil refuse to mix with 
water, and water spurn oil. The antagonisms of the 
time were held under by the powerful moral influence 
of the first President. 

Accompanied by his wife and child, Monroe rode 
with the judges that spring as far as Staunton and 
Charlottesville on the circuit. There was no civil busi- 
ness and little criminal; but then the scenery was 
delightful. Mrs. Monroe especially enjoyed it. The 
Blue Ridge, with its beauties, was new to her. What 
could be lovelier than a view, from the heights, of the 
far Shenandoah like silver in the sun? Mrs. Monroe 
was with her husband on many of his professional 
excursions — to Richmond, on chancery business; and 
elsewhere. Monroe's brother-in-law, John Dawson, 
who had been his colleague from Spottsylvania in the 
ratification convention, was now a member of the 
Executive Council. John Marshall had become a lead- 
ing member of the bar. In fact, there was no lack of 
friends and acquaintances wherever the Monroes went. 
In mid-August, 1789, they moved to their new home in 
Albemarle. Here Monroe, happy in his domestic life, 
watched the progress of events. 

Hamilton's measure looking to the assumption of 
the State debts interested him greatly. Like most 
Virginians, he thought it imfair to their own State, since 
Virginia already had paid a large part of her indebted- 
ness. He had taken a hand in the location of the Federal 
City and was interested greatly in the final resolve that 
the temporary ten-year seat of government should be 
at Philadelphia and the permanent seat by the Potomac. 
In their frequent letters, Madison and Jefferson kept 
him informed of Federal aggression • and republican 
perils, and at the same time, gave him the news of 
Philadelphia and New York. Monroe wrote to Madison, 



152 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE; 

Charlottesville, July 25, 1790: ''We fed oiunselves 
particularly obliged to you for y'r kindness in giving us 
mtelligence from our friends — we never hear horn 
them, except when you extract a line from them. It 
revives Mrs. M's spirits, w'h from her long absence 
are often depressed. " He mentions the cost and hard- 
ships of a journey north — else Mrs. Monroe would 
visit the cities. As for news of interest in Virginia, 
there was dearth of it — little to interest those whose 
minds were occupied with larger affairs. 

This Albemarle interlude was less appreciated by the 
Monroes than it would have been had they foreseen 
how rare were to be such releases from the public 
service. March 12, 1790, United States Senator Gray- 
son died, leaving a vacancy which Governor Harrison 
filled by the appointment of John Walker imtil the 
Virginia Legislature should elect. Monroe, urged for 
the Senatorship instead of Walker, wrote to Jefferson, 
October 20, that after mature reflection he had decided 
to suffer his name to be used in the contest. "It wiD 
contribute greatly to my own and the gratification of 
Mrs. M. " he wrote, " as it will place us both with and 
nearer our friends. " Ten days later, in a letter written 
at Richmond, he declared: "I have determined in great 
measure in case of my election to abandon my pro- 
fession.** As he was ready to bum his bridges, he 
evidently had gone into the contest with some vim. 
He was chosen; and began at once to prepare for his 
residence in Philadelphia. He was to be accompanied 
by his wife. They planned to go by way of Annapolis 
and the Eastern Shore; and perhaps stop a while in 
Philadelphia with Mrs. Monroe's uncle by marriage, 
Mr. Willing, while they looked about them for a place 
to live during the coming session of Congress. 

Thus at the age of thirty-two, Monroe resumed his 
activity in the political world. He produced his cre- 
dentials in the Senate Chamber of the old Courthouse 
at the southeast comer of Sixth and Chestnut Streets, 
on Monday, December 6, 1790, and took the oath of 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE US 

office as United States Senator from Virginia. It was 
the third session of the First Congress and on the day 
Monroe took his seat all thirteen of the States were 
represented for the first time. It so happened, also, 
that thirteen Senators responded to the roll. Monroe 
was listed as in the two-year class. But he was re-elected 
by the Virginia Legislature, qualified on March 4, 179S, 
and on that occasion duly listed in the four-year class. ^ 

There is little in the Monroe correspondence relating 
to the social affairs of the new Capitol. Mr. and Mrs. 
Monroe went to Virginia as often as possible; but he 
complained that he was obliged to sacrifice his law 
business in order to attend conscientiously to his duties 
in the Senate. He made it a rule, ever obligatory upon 
himself, not to neglect his public work. He kept a 
carriage in Philadelphia; and he and his wife traveled 
to Richmond and Albemarle in a phaeton, as Jefferson 
did. Later he had a post-chariot built for this purpose. 
It was stronger. The roads were abominable. Jefferson 
was the socially conspicuous Republican of the time. 
He dwelt in a large four-story house on Market Street 
near Eighth, opposite the office of the Secretary of 
State, and but two blocks west of the President's house 
on Market at Sixth. Philosopher that he was, Jefferson 
amused the town by trying to live in winter in a sun- 
heated room. Hamilton was at the southeast corner of 
Third and Walnut, quite a walk away; and Vice-Presi- 
dent Adams occupied Bush Hill Mansion. 

Dinners, receptions and balls were frequent.' Wash- 
ington's dinners were elegant and solemn — plate, 
wine, food, all of choice quality. Maclay, who sat in 
the Senate as a Republican, attended one of these 
formal affairs and was impressed with its solenmity. 

^ His committee work in the first and second United States Congresses was 
varied. He was on a committee to report on the memorial of the Kentucky 
Convention; to consider the report of the Secretary of the State on coins, weights 
and measures, on bounty lands; on a mint; on the admission of Vermont; on 
land offices; on rates of foreign coins; on a Revolutionary land warrant; on the 
protection of the frontiers; on the settlement of loan office accounts; on national 
defense. — See Annals of Congress, Journals of Congress, Hamilton's Writings of 
M<Miroe. 



154 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

"Some dirty democrat did that,'* said Mrs. Washing- 
ton one day, as she entered the newly papered hall and 
saw a thumb-mark where a hand had been. Her 
Friday evening receptions were pleasant parties. Wash- 
ington was sure to drop in. He was a close observer of 
the proprieties. His own levee was on Tuesdays at mid- 
afternoon. In black velvet coat and breeches, white 
waistcoat, yellow gloves, silver buckles, his sword at 
his side, his cocked hat in his hand, he looked what he 
was — a goodly man and chief. A guest approached 
him as he stood thus; was introduced; bowed, and 
retired to a place in the line forming around the room. 
At a set time the doors were shut. Then Washington 
passed along the line from guest to guest, showing his 
civility to each. That was all.^ 

Rich merchants lived on a fine scale; and the Capital 
was gay, save when the yellow fever came, as it did in 
the successive summers, driving officials to German- 
town, and causing congressional families to dread a 
return for the session. With frost, the scourge ceased, 
and the city resumed its life. 

Yellow fever and the great French furore were by no 
means unrelated. West India vessels brought the 
scourge and they also brought great numbers of French 
refugees. Thrown off by the French Revolution, or 
driven from San Domingo by the fear of massacre, they 
walked the streets of Philadelphia in great numbers. 
Many were cared for by the French Patriotic Society. 
It is well to remember these and other facts, such as that 
there was a powerful republican element in Philadel- 
phia, when we come, as we now have, to the Genet 
quarrel. Though Monroe kept out of the quarrel in its 
early stages, he was involved in a later imbroglio, des- 
tined to give him not a few heartaches and humiliations. 

Friendship for La Fayette and other French com- 
rades of our Revolution would have caused Monroe to 
follow affairs in France with keen interest; but, aside 
from tha t, there was a considerable party in America 

i William Maday. Journal, 1789-1791. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 155 

which sustained the contention that only by eruptive 
violence could the twenty-five million French under the 
ancient Capet regime be freed from despotic govern- 
ment. They had sided with La Fayette in his effort to 
give France a constitutional government; and, with 
the rise of the republican party in France in 1789 had 
hoped for the overthrow of monarchy. Lately, with 
La Fayette in a dungeon, and the furies let loose, they 
joined numerous Americans of all parties in deploring 
a situation that had grown profoundly tragic. 

But many lacked knowledge of the actual devasta- 
tion wrought by the human hurricane and bethought 
them of the good that might come to the masses when 
the bloody days were over. Again, those with a strong 
sense of the indispensability of law and order, admiring 
a government of the British type, were horrified 
beyond measure. The men in power were largely of 
this description. Not a few had their vain heads full 
of monarchical ideas, thinking of themselves as priv- 
ileged gentlemen, destined, if not predestined, to look 
after the less favored citizenry. In their view, humanity 
was divided into two branches — those who made silk 
stockings and silver buckles and those who wore 
them. 

On the contrary, JeflFerson and Madison and Monroe 
belonged to a distinct school of advanced Americans. 
Wythe had drilled it into them just how constitutional 
liberty, bom in the British Isles, had fled to these 
shores. Old farmers had given them to understand 
that they would be held accountable for all they said 
and did. The same electorate had helped them to lop 
off bad laws. But Jefferson, a philosophical republican, 
went further than his backers. Crowns had failed, 
aristocracies had failed; let the homespun people have 
the say. Somehow it seemed that Jehovah had put 
it into the heads of men to come to America and begin 
again. Why, then, trifle? Since the Nazarene had said 
men were brothers and had enunciated democracy, 
and since Jehovah had opened a new world for its 



156 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

practice, why not begin, why not be free, why not dig 

Erosperity out of the God-given ground, why not be 
appy? Always in the republicanism of Monroe and 
Madison was there some such feeling as this. 

But though Jefferson and Madison at first cotfperated 
with the administration they soon found themselves at 
odds with it on party matters. They were not merely 
perverse. They had to differ with the Federalist leaders 
or suffer rebuke at home. 

The new parties were Federalist and Republican. 
But since Federalism was an accomplished fact, 
"Federalist" now meant something different. To be a 
Federalist was to be the supporter of a body of doc- 
trines looking to strong government and the rule of the 
big men of the country. Let the hoi polloi stand down. 
Hamilton's superior statesmanship invigorated his 
party. Until factions developed, this forceful man was 
Federalism incarnate. Washington deferred to him. 
Adams profited by his secret influence. King, McHenry, 
Pickering were among the followers who did his bid- 
ding. His editor was John Fenno, of the United States 
Gazette. Jefferson, too, had an editor — Philip Freneau, 
poet, of the National Gazette. Freneau was vituperative. 
Hamilton himself wrote. Jefferson wrote. John Adams 
was "Davila." John Quincy Adams was "Publicola." 
There was plenty to write about. Monroe must have 
resented the contkiued occupation of the British iK)sts. 
Sir Guy Carleton, now Lord Dorchester, Governor of 
Canada, was pushing British interests on the border. 
St. Clair's defeat was a great blow though more than 
offset by Wayne's victory. To the southward, Spanish 
agents were active. In Pennsylvania Scotch-Irish 
borderers resented Hamilton's whiskey tax. Fries 
rebelled against the window tax. But the articles in the 
newspapers were often merely quarrelsome, without 
other significance. Washington, in fact, found it neces- 
sary to make peace between Hamilton and Jefferson 
and stop their newspaper controversy. 

Decidedly more difficult to stop was the French furore 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 157 

we have spoken of as a calamitous phenomenon coinci- 
dent with the yellow fever visitation. 

Edmund Charles Genet, aged twenty-eight, having 
annexed Geneva to Republican France and having been 
decorated by Empress Catharine of Russia with the 
phrase "a rabid demagogue," landed April 8, 1793, at 
Charleston, S. C, and proceeded to involve the United 
States in a war with England. He was Girondist 
Minister from France, in succession to Temant. Now 
when the news had come of the outbreak of war, 
Washington had hurried to Philadelphia and on April 23 
had issued a proclamation of neutrality. But this was 
nothing to "Le Citoyen " Genet. He made a great deal 
of the clause in the treaty of 1778 by which France and 
America were to be allies in the event of war. No one 
was ever more enthusiastic in a cause, or more brazen. 
He acted as though America were his. As Napoleonic 
as Napoleon, without that heroes sense or ability. 
Genet nevertheless won a big following and by the time 
he reached Philadelphia, May 16, had become an 
object of the gravest concern. Some ten thousand Sons 
of Liberty, aroused by signal guns, rallied to the stand- 
ard. Tri-colored cockades were worn. Ca Ira was the 
song of the hour. People walked past the President's 
house calling for war with England. Washington, for his 
part, kept his peace. When he received Genet, May 18, 
the Girondist found him unimpressed. He called Wash- 
ington "that old man" — said he was disappointed in 
him. But Washington, conscious of an outpouring of 
abuse against himself, remained undisturbed until 
July. Then when Genet converted a prize vessel "the 
little Sarah" into "La Petite Democrate," armed her 
and sent her to close the mouth of the Mississippi, 
Washington took steps to suppress his activities. Genet 
insulted Washington and tiireatened to appeal from 
him to the people. However, the affair was over. Genet 
never returned to France but married into the Clinton 
family and settled in New York. As the chief actor in 
a drama played before the eyes of Monroe, then going 



158 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

about his duties in the Senate, he was long remembered 
by our republican who, by-and-by, would himself enact 
a part in another Anglo-French drama, with the scene 
in Paris. Incidentally, Genet became involved in the 
still imsettled matter of the Mississippi.^ Jefferson was 
endeavoring to negotiate a treaty with Gardoqui who, 
however, "took a blustering tone," as he had done with 
Jay ten years before. As France and Spain were now 
at war. Genet planned to seize East Florida and Louisi- 
ana. "Jefferson," says Bassett, "reminded Genet that 
we were then conducting negotiations with Spain, and 
he caused the Frenchman to understand Ihat a little 
explosion on the Mississippi might be welcomed by the 
Americans as tending to convince Spain that it would 
be wise to make a Treaty. "* Genet's successor reversed 
his policy, and fortunately Thomas Pinckney, passing 
from London to Madrid, arranged a treaty with 
Godoy, "the Prince of Peace" of whom we shall hear 
a great deal somewhat later. This treaty settled the 
boundaries and opened the Mississippi to our people 
in the West. 

George Hammond was British Minister to the United 
States, and Gouverneur Morris, American Minister to 
France. In the Senate Monroe was one of eleven to vote 
against the confirmation of Morris, who had sixteen 
supporters, including King, Ellsworth and the Hamil- 
tonian standbys. Here are Monroe's reasons for voting 
against Morris? 

"His manners not conciliatory — his character well known and 
considered as indiscreet — upon the grounds of character he was 
twice refused as a Member of the Treasury board, once at Trenton 
and afterwards at New York — Besides he is a monarchy man and 
not suitable to be employed by this country, nor in France. He 
went to Europe to sell lands and Certificates. ** 

This seems a harsh estimate of a man who did a 
great deal of good in his day. Monroe, of course, 

1 The Federalist System (American Nation) by J. S. Bassett, Vol. XI, p. 79. 
» The Federalist System, p. 81; Roosevelt's Winning of the West, IV, 178-18S; 
Ogg's Openiog the Mississippi, 421-459. 
* Ruf us Ki^ Life and Correspondence, Vol I, p. 421. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 150 

meant it for a confidential purpose; but Rufus King 
passed it on, with other personalia of the Senate, in 
Federalistie times. King quotes the memorandum of 
Monroe and Madison sent to Jefferson when they 
heard his resignation rumored :^ " In a word, we think 
you ought to make the most of the value we perceive 
to be placed in your participation in the Executive 
Councils." Already the fortunes of the three Virginians 
led them along the same road. When Jefferson resigned, 
Edmund Randolph came in, as Secretary of State. 
King thus itemizes, April 1 7, when John Jay's appoint- 
ment was under discussion in the Senate :* 

**Mr. Monroe declared his opinion that he was not a suitable 
character since he held opinions (as appears by his reports while 
Secretary of Foreign A£Fairs) against the interest and just claims of 
the Country. That, in the first place, in respect to the inexecution 
of the Treaty of Peace, Mr. Jay had avowed an opinion in favor of 
interest upon British Debts, and secondly had acknowledged we 
were the first aggressors against the Treaty; and therefore that 
the Detention of Posts, etc, was justifiable on the part of 6. B. 
Further that a secret treaty existed between Spain and England, 
which probably had reference to the territorial rights of the former 
in America and consequently affected our Boundary and right to 
navigate the Mississippi; that Mr. Jay might be sounded on these 
points and it was well known that his opinions were unfriendly to 
our Rights and too complaisant to those of Sp: this was proved 
by his negotiations with Gardoqui, with whom he would have 
signed a treaty, stipulating to forebear the use of the river for 
25 or 30 years, and to refer the question of Boundary to Com- 
missioners.' 

Next day Monroe moved for the production of 
Jay's report, while Secretary for Foreign Affairs, on 
British complaints of violations of the treaty. Evi- 

^ Rufus King, Life and Correspondence, Vol. I, p. 514. 

' Rufus King, Life and Correspondence, Vol. I, p. 521, «f teq. King saya: "Guno 
informed me that Randolph had proposed the [British | Envoyship to Madison — 
that the party also desired the appointment of Jefferson, and that, with a view 
of governing Butler, Monroe had intimated to him that it would be agreeable 
to the^ Party that he sh*d be appointed, and that thus Butler had entertained the 
hope if not the serious expectation that he should be nominated; and that his 
absence for ten days or a Fortnight from the Senate were days of suspense and 
foolish intrigue in relation to this appointment." 

* Monroe supported Gallatin when the Federalists put Hamilton's rising BnanciaS 
rival out of the Senate. See King, Vol. I, p. 532; Coleman*! Sketch of King, 
Dtlaplaine** Reponiory I, 184. 



160 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

dently Monroe viewed Jay wifh an altogether difiFerent 
eye from those in the heads of the Federalist leaders. 
One day soon he would realize this; not with reminis- 
cent but with fresh pangs. 

Monroe's letters to Jefferson, in March, April and 
May, 1794^ leave no doubts as to how he stood on ques- 
tions connected with what he calls the "exigency of 
the times." Genet's successor, Fauchet, he said, was 
being received with "profound attention" by the 
Federalists; but the newcomer, who was "reserved 
and prudent" would soon discern the true friends of 
France. These friends, in their zeal for the cause, had 
tolerated Genet as long as they could in spite of his 
errors. As for the aggressions of Great Britain, they 
were as bad as ever. She regards no kind of form in 
the pursuit of our property, seizing whatever she can 
lay hands on. Urgent as the crisis was, its embarrass- 
ment was increased in the minds of Republicans by 
the fact that war would place military power in the 
hands of "the enemy of the publick liberty." Monroe 
was suspicious of a measure introduced by Sedgewick 
providing for a provisional army of fifteen thousand 
men. He was suspicious of the Society of the Cincinnati. 
But the "fiscal party" had a remedy. It proposed to 
send an envoy to England. Hamilton was talked of 
as the envoy; why not Dickinson? Jay and King were 
mentioned too. "Either will answer to bind the 
aristocracy of this country stronger and closer to that 
of the other." 

Monroe felt so strongly on the subject of Hamilton 
as envoy that he wrote to General Washington about 
it, offering to call and give his reasons why Hamilton 
should not be sent. 

Here was a new point. Had a Senator the right to 
question the qualifications of an officer until his 
nomination had come before the Senate? Washington 
consulted Secretary Randolph who gave an opinion 
to wit: "t hat the Secretary of State inform Col. Monroe 

> Writings of Monroe. Vol. 1. pp. 284-299. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 161 

verbally that his station entitles his communications 
to attention; that it is presumed that he has considered 
and made up his mind to the kind of interference which 
a Senator ought to make in a nomination beforehand; 
that upon this idea the President will be ready to 
afford an interview at a given time." 

Here was an occasion when a precedent was about 
to be set. Washington of his own accord saw the 
inadvisability of sudi directness as that proposed by 
Monroe and endorsed by Randolph. It would be well 
for Senators to express themselves in the Senate. 
Washington politely acknowledged Monroe's note, but 
ignored the request for an interview. If Monroe were 
possessed of any facts or information which would 
disqualify Colonel Hamilton for the mission, "let him 
conmiunicate them in writing.*' Others were doing so. 
For instance, John Nicholas wrote to Washington that 
he was astounded to hear Hamilton mentioned as 
envoy "when perhaps more than half America have 
determined it to be imsafe to trust power in the hands 
of this person however remotely it is connected with 
many of the odious traits in his character." 

So bold a man as Hamilton could not but make 
enemies and bitter ones at that, even in his own party. 
Throughout the long period during which the Federalist 
system prevailed, Hamilton was the strong man of 
the strong-men regime. That Washington needed him, 
recognized his sure genius for organizing adequate 
government, was greatly in his favor, but that Wash- 
ington trusted him in the midst of much distrust 
remains the outstanding explanation of his success. 
Washington was unquestionably the wise man of that 
hour, as he had been the wise man of wartime and of 
the critical period of rational consolidation. His sound 
.sense probably would not have served him so well if 
he had not been broadened by the circumstances of 
his unusual career. In the French war, as in the long 
War of Independence, he had served the continent — 
not Virginia. Always America was in mind, not his 



162 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

native State. Hence his breadth of view, in contrast 
with the patriotic prepossession, amounting to myopia* 
of some of his contemporaries. As for Hamilton, he 
was intellectually broad; moreover he had this advan- 
tage — there was in his heart no great prepossession 
for any particular State since he was born outside the 
continental bounds. This accident helped him to be 
a nationalist, just as love of State made it hard for 
men like Monroe to rid themselves of partiality for 
their own particular part of the country. 

Washington named Jay as envoy. WTiat Washington 
wanted was to prevent war. But Monroe, like other 
Republicans, did not relish this seeming obeisance to 
a proud power. He wrote to Jefferson: "The circum- 
stances of sending an envoy to negotiate with Engl'd 
at the time that the Minister of France, on the ground 
and clothed with similar powers, is only amused with 
acts of civility, shews that a connection with the former 
power is the real object of the executive." ^ Why 
should we court England's favor and ** degrade our 
character?" Jay, too — "this person" who "had well 
nigh bartered away the Mississippi." 

Then in the same letter comes this passage: "The 
present French Minister (Fauchet) expressed lately 
the wish of his country that G. Morris sho'd be recalled 
and in consequence arrangm** are making for the 
purpose. Being forced to send a Republican character 
the adm° was reduced to the dilemna of selecting from 
among its enemies, or rather those of opposite prin- 
ciples, a person who wo'd be acceptable to that nation. 
The offer of the station has been presented to Ch'lr. 
Livingston, as 1 hear, in a letter written by the President. 
'Tis tho't he will accept it. Burr's name was men- 
tioned to Randolph, but with the success that was 
previously expected ; indeed, it was not urged in prefer- 
ence to the other, but only noted for consideration."* 
May 26 he added: "1 believe I intimated ^to you in 

^ Monroe to Jefferson, May 4, 1794. 
* Monroe to Jefferson, May 26, 1794. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 16S 

my last that the President had oflFered Mr. L., after 
the refusal of Mr. Madison, the legation in France 
in place of Gv- Morris, who would be recalled; that 
Burr had been a competitor. Since that time he has 
declined and Burr has continued under auspices very 
favorable to his success, sole candidate. Present 
appearances authorize the belief that he will be 
appointed." 

Monroe's ink had hardly dried on these words when 
he sent a note to Madison asking him to see Randolph 
"and settle the matter with him," i.e., as to whether 
he, Monroe, should go to France. 

In a letter to Jefferson^ next day, Monroe gave all 
the details of the proposal and the arrangements. 
He said: "Early yesterday morning, and immediately 
after my last was written, I was called on by Mr. R. 
to answer the question * whether I wo'd accept the 
legation to France.' The proposition as you will 
readily conceive surprised me, for I really thought 
I was among the last men to whpm it wo'd be made." 
He told Randolph that he had espoused Burr. Was 
there a chance for Burr.'^ If so, he would have none of 
it. He would not even think of accepting until Burr 
and his friends should be satisfied. Randolph reassured 
him on that head. To whom would the mission be 
offered, if he, Monroe, should refuse it? Probably 
Governor Paca of Maryland. "The point of delicacy 
being removed," continued Monroe, "I then desired 
Mr. Madison in conference with a few of our friends to 
determine what answer sho'd be given to the proposi- 
tion. The result was that I sho'd accept upon the 
necessity of cultivating France and the uncertainty 
of the person to whom it might otherwise fall." 

May 27, Monroe's nomination was sent to the 
Senate, which next day confirmed it without cavil. 
June 1, just before the adjournment of Congress, 
Secretary Randolph presented him with his commission 
as Minist er Plenipotentiary to the French Republic; 

^ Monroe to Jefferson, May 27. 1794. 



164 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

and, on the same day, Monroe wrote to Washington 
announcing his readiness to embark in the discharge 
of his duties. He thanked the President for the partic- 
ular obligation conferred. It was a distinguished mark 
of confidence — a high trust. He would be zealous 
to execute it with honor and credit to the country and 
the administration. He wrote to Jefferson that he 
expected to leave Philadelphia June 10 for Baltimore 
where a vessel was reported to be in readiness to sail 
for France. He wanted Jefferson to send him a better 
cypher. Stirring times were ahead. " Danton has been 
executed — the charge^ the plunder of public money — 
the King of Prussia withdrawn — and the British 
driven from Corsica." 




Queen Hortense (In Girlhood) 

^tr-'Kl^^Mnnr^. Willi 'it". iii°"S-'."RarpM'S"Un'r 
bt »■> Liiuis Krancc-ia Auliry . Tlic plii.1i>ps|>li i* (run 



CHAPTER IX 

Monroe in Paris — DiPLOBiAcr under Difficulties 

Madison journeyed with Monroe from Philadelphia 
to Baltimore. The first session of the Third Congress 
had just come to an end and Madison was on his way 
to Montpelier. Monroe gave him power-of-attorney 
for use in the settlement of various business aflPairs, 
including those connected with the estate of Mrs. 
Monroe's father; handed him a letter to deliver to 
JeflPerson, and said farewell. 

To Jefferson, he wrote that, upon their return some 
three or four years hence, he and Mrs. Monroe hoped 
to settle down in their Albemarle home and enjoy the 
society of their Monticello neighbors. "We expect to 
embark to-morrow" (June 18) he added: "and to fall 
down the bay immediately.** ^ 

It was the first long sea voyage of the Monroes. 
Their daughter Eliza was a little girl of seven. As they 
sailed past Annapolis, Monroe might well have seen 
the top of the State House, where he had sat as a 
member of the Continental Congress; and might 
profitably have reflected upon the great changes l£at 
had occurred since that time. 

But Monroe's mind was on France, most likely; 
and it would have been on England too, if it had been 
a less honest and less trustful mind. For Jay had 
sailed by mid-May, and perhaps was already in London, 
with the power to call up all sorts of trouble, if not 
malign spirits, out of the vasty deep, breeding high 
seas for his countryman who followed. 

We may be sure Monroe, on the long passage over, 
studied his general instructions, in a document of 



^ Monroe to Jeffenon, June 17, 1794. 

105 



166 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

nearly three thousand words,^ as handed him by 
Edmund Randolph, Secretary of State. These instruc- 
tions, in sixteen numbered paragraphs* may thus be 
summarized : 

** You have been nominated as the successor of Mr. Gouvemeur 
Morris, in the office of Minister Plenipotentiary of the United 
States of America to the Republic of France from a confidence that, 
while you keep steadily in view the necessity of rendering yourself 
acceptable to that government, you will maintain the self-respect 
due to your own. In doing the one and other of these things, your 
own prudence and understanding must be the guides; after first 
possessing yourself of the real sentiments of the Executive, rela* 
tive to the French nation. The President has been an early and 
decided friend of the French Revolution, and whatever reason 
there may have been under our ignorance of facts and policy, to 
suspend an opinion upon some of its important transactions; yet 
he is immutable in his wishes for its accomplishment; incapable 
of assenting to the right of any foreign prince to meddle with its 
interior arrangements; persuaded that success will attend its 
efforts; and particularly, that union among themselves is an 
impregnable barrier against external assaults. . . . The gradation 
of public opinion from the beginning of the new order of things to 
this day and the fluctuations and mutual destruction of parties, 
forbid a minister of a foreign country to attach himself to any as 
such, and dictate to him not to incline to any set of men, further 
than they appear to go with the sense of the nation. . . . We. . . 
have pursued neutrality with faithfulness; we have paid more 
of our debt to France than was absolutely due. . . . We mean to 
continue the same line of conduct in future; and to remove all 
jealousy with respect to Mr. Jay's mission to London, you may 
say that he is p)ositively forbidden to weaken the engagements 
between this country and France. // is not impossible that you wiU 
be obliged to encounter^ on this head, suspicions of various kinds. 
But you may declare the motives of thai mission to be, to obtain imme^ 
diate compensation for our plundered property, and restitution of the 
posts. You may intimate by way of argument, but without ascrib- 
ing it to the government, that, if war should be necessary the affec- 
tions of the people of the United States towards it, would be better 
secured by a manifestation, that every step had been taken to avoid iiy 
and that the British nation woidd be divided, when they found that we 
had been forced into it,* This may be briefly touched upon as the 
path of prudence with respect to ourselves; and also with respect 



* Writings of James Monroe by S. M. Hamilton. Vol. II. pp. 1-9. 
' Monroe, in his "View of the Conduct of the Executive," emphazies. by italics 
this part and other portions of the ''Instructions." Hamilton, II, p. 3. 



riT 



THE LIFE OF JAMES UOtfBOE 167 

to France, dnce we are unable to give her aids of men or monev. 
To this matter you cannot be too attentive, and you will be amply 
justified in repelling with firmness any imputation of the most 
distant intention to sacrifice our connection with France to any 
connection with England. " If America be an asylum for French 
patriots, if persons attainted in France come hither let their 
reception be ''not misinterpreted into any estrangement from the 
French cause. You will explain this whensoever it shall be neces- 
sary. " Oui laws have never yet made a distinction of persons. 
Notwithstanding the obligations of the United States to La Fayette 
and Washington's warm friendship for him, the President kept 
hands off in his case. ''If we may judge from what has been at 
different times uttered by Mr. Fauchet, he will represent the 
existence of two parties here, irreconcilable to each other. One 
republican, and friendly to the French Revolution; the other 
monarchical, aristocratic, Britannic, and anti-Gallican; that a 
majority of the House of Representatives, the people and the 
President are in the first class; and a majority of the Senate in 
the second. "If this intelligence should be used in order to inspire 
a distrust of our good will to France, you will industriously obviate 
such an effect." Let France make plain and candid application 
to the United States Government and not attempt "those insidious 
operations on the people," such as Genet essayed.^ Sixteen ques- 
tions were asked to be answered by Monroe as to the status of 
affairs, such as: "Is Robespierre's party firmly fixed? " If Monroe 
were asked by the French as to the treaty of commerce he might 
say that Fauchet had never proposed it — he himself was unin- 
structed. So with a treaty of alliance, and other matters. If the 
embargo were brought up, say it was levelled against Great 
Britain; as for the embargo of Bordeaux, "remonstrate against 
it." Insist upon "compensation for captures and spoliations of 
our property. " There should be a settlement by France of money 
advanced by Congress in aid of St. Domingo refugees. '* Although 
the President wiU avoid, as much as possible to appoint any obnoxiouB 
person Consul, it may happen otherwise, and must he considered as 
accidental. " "To conclude — you go, sir, to France to strengthen 
our Friendship with that country; and you are well acquainted 
with the line of freedom and ease to which you may advance 
without betraying the dignity of the United States. You will 
show our confidence in the ftench Republic, without betraying 
the most remote remark of undue complaisance. You vnU let it be 
seen, that in case of war unth any nation on earth, we shall consider 
France as our first and natural ally. You may dwell upon the sense 



* Genet had been ordered home (though he never went) to be tried for mal- 
versation in office. J. A. J. Fauchet succeeded him, and was in Philadelphia as 
French minister at this time. Later P. A. Adet was minister. 



168 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

which we miimiain qf pad 9ernce$f and for the more recent inter- 
position in our bdialf with the D^ of Algiers. Among the great 
events with whidb the world is now teeming, there may to an 
opening for France to become instrumental in securing to us the 
free navigation of the Mississippi. Spain may, perhaps, negoUaU 
apeacet separate from Qreat Britain with France. If she does, the 
mlesiseipph may be acquired through this channel^ especially if you 
contrive to have our mediation in any manner solicitated. '* 

Such, in substance, were the instructions — such 
Monroe's specific admonition to conciliate France. 
Monroe had with him another document — the official 
reply of the Senate and House of Representatives to 
the French Conmiittee of Public Safety. This, too, 
he had received at the hands of Randolph and this, 
too, was filled with amicable, benevolent and laudatory 
passages. Yes, Congress, ever grateful, was devot^ 
to France.* 

Thus the official literature upon which Monroe fed dur- 
ing his sea voyage had little of a disconcerting character 
about it. Conciliate France! — he would have nothing 
to weep over when it came to that. As the waves 
lapped the sides of his ship, he did not realize, perhaps, 
how uninformed he was as to the dangers that lurked 
in anything approaching an excess of conciliation. He 
was a republican, heart and soul; so the wish was 
father to his thought — he was altogether pleased to 
feel that he could help along France, liberty, and the 
substitution of parliamentary for despotic government. 
He did not know that Robespierre and Saint Just, in 
their eflPort to establish "an ideal state/' had caused 
fourteen hundred heads to be chopped oflf since June 10; 
he did not know of the new coup (TStat whereby those 
Jacobins had themselves gone to their death; nor did 
he know of his own great good fortune in approaching 
the shores of France just as the enormous black cloud 
of Jacobinism lifted to let in a little of the sun. Robes- 
pierre, Saint Just, and the drunken Henriot with nearly 
a score of terrorists were executed on July 28, a day of 
heat and horror, only a short time before Monroe's 

^ Writinga of James Monroe^ Vol. II, p. 15. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 169 

disembarkation. He was to find Billaud Varennes and 
CoUot d* Herbois in power, though not for long, since 
a lasting reaction against violence had now set in. 
By and by there would be an end to the Democratic 
Republic; then would come the Bourgeois Republic; 
after that, in due course, those Napoleonic times so 
celebrated in the world's annals. , 

"Between Baltimore and Paris,** wrote Monroe to 
Madison, " we were 45 days. The passage was free from 
storms and between the soimdings of each coast short, 
being only 29 days. We enjoyed our health; none were 
sick except Joseph a few days and myself an hour or 
two. Mrs. M. and the chUd escaped it altogether. 
We landed at Havre and left it for this the day after. 
. . . We are yet at lodgings but expect to be fixed 
in Mr. M's house, which I took, in less than a week. 
I foimd Mr. Morris from town but he came in, in two 
OP three days after my arrival ** — which was at Havre 
July 31, and at Paris August 2. 

Gouvemeur Morris was the very opposite of Monroe 
in so many characteristics that we owe it to the reader 
to sketch him as accurately as possible. He was bom 
at Morrisania in the Bronx, now a part of greater 
New York, January 31, 1752, and died in the same 
room, November 6, 1816. His father was a colonial 
Judge, and so was his grandfather, who himself was 
the son of a Cromwellian soldier. Gouvemeur's mother 
was of Huguenot stock — Miss Gouvemeur. His 
half-brother, Lewis, was a Signer of the Declaration of 
Independence. He wa« a friend but not a relative — 
at least not a near one — of Robert Morris, the financier 
of the Revolution. He was close to Jay and Hamilton 
and, as a young lawyer of brilliant parts kept well to 
the front in a period of big men. Some thought him 
one of the biggest. Theodore Roosevelt who in his 
yoimger days, wrote a Life of Morris, in which that 
worthy is lauded, Paine villified and Monroe whistled 
rather cavalierly down the wind, regarded him as a 
great man, yet not quite in the first rink of statesmen. 



170 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

The Morrises of Morrisania were erratic and whimsical. 
They thought themselves leaders in an aristocratic 
republic. Gouvemeur's elder brother. General Staats 
Long Morris, was a King's man, married a duchess 
and lived in London. Gouvemeur was a stiflp Federalist 
— stiflPer than John Adams. Roosevelt says of him: 
^^His keen masterful mind, his far-sightedness and the 
force and subtlety of his reasoning were all marred by 
his incurable cynicism and deep-rooted distrust oi 
mankind. He throughout appears as an adDOcahu 
diaboli; he puts the lowest interpretation upon every 
act, and frankly avows his disbelief in all generous 
and unselfish motives.**^ Nevertheless he was a useful 
member of the Continental Congress and one of the 
makers of the Constitution. Morris was fond ci 
aristocratic society — of women, of intrigue, of playing 
upon the weaknesses of mortals less acute than himself. 
Handsome and stalwart, punctilious as to dress and 
deportment, he had suflpered somewhat in an accident 
at Philadelphia in May, 1781. A pair of spirited horses 
which he drove to a phaeton, scorning the aid of a 
groom to stand at their head, ran away with him and 
shattered a leg so badly that it had to be cut oflP. It 
was replaced with a wooden one. But it is an ill wind 
that blows no good; and most likely his lost leg saved 
his neck on numerous occasions, for when Morris, on 
private business bent, reached Paris, February 8, 
1789, the French Revolution was already approaching; 
and a little later the critical Parisian populace looking 
at his peg leg saw in it something heroic. "That man 
lost his leg in the great American Revolution — the 
war for freedom." And mistaking him for "a cripple 
of the American war for freedom," a maimed soldier 
of Washington's army, Paris also at first mistook his 
character^. Only later did the aristocrats complain 
that Morris was too aristocratic to suit them. Here, 



* Gouverneur Morris, by Theodore Roosevelt, 1888; p. 140. 
' Footprints of Famous^mericans in Paris, by John Joseph Conway, 1912, pp. 
25-SS. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 171 

indeed, was an anomaly; an American, with nothing 
to lose by it, does not permit himself to urge a freer 
government for the French ; on the other hand, French- 
men of the blood, obviously destined to terrible sac- 
rifices, are filled with zeal for just that thing. Morris 
and La Fayette thus disagreed. La Fayette warned 
Washington that Morris^ was hardly the man to 
represent America in France in the time of constitutional 
reform; nevertheless, in 1791, he was made confidential 
agent of the United States and next year was made 
Minister. At this point it should be said that, whatever 
Morris's maltreatment of Thomas Paine, or however 
censurable his secret hostility to Monroe, he deserves 
very great credit for his frankness toward La Fayette 
and his more than handsome conduct in advancing 
Madame de La Fayette one hundred thousand Uvres 
when that good woman was in dire distress. Washington 
knew of Us serviceable qualities, as well as of his 
diplomatic depth and sagaciousness ; nor is it likely 
that he would have been recalled in 1794 had not 
France demanded it on the heels of Genet's dismissal. 

"I could be popular,'* wrote Morris to Washington 
(February 14, 1793) "but that would be wrong. 
The diflferent parties pass away like the shadows of a 
magic lantern, and to be well with any one of them 
woiUd, in a short period, become cause of unquenchable 
hatred with the other.'' Again he wrote to Washing- 
ton: "You may rely, sir, that I shall be cautious to 
commit the United States as little as possible to future 
contingencies.''* 

In fact, though astonishingly wrong-headed in such 
matters as the future of our western country, as well 



^ "Permit me, my dear General, to make an observation for yourself alone. 
Personally I am a friend of Gouvemeur Morris, and have always been, in private, 
quite content with him, but the aristocratic and really contra-revolutionary 
principles which he has avowed render him little fit to represent the only govern- 
ment resembling ours. ... I cannot repress the desire that American and French 
Srindples should be in the heart and on the lips of the Ambassador of the United 
tates in France/' — La Fayette to Washington, Paris, March 15, 1792. Mhnoiru 
du QMral de La Fayette, Bmxelles, 1837. Vol. II, pp. 484-5. 
' Gouvemeur Morris to President Washington, June 25, 1788. 



ITS THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

as tlie future of democracy, he was long-headed to a 
fine d^ree in certain diplomatic matters of that stormy 
time. His friends were anxious about him. His brother 
urged him to leave Paris. '' You are right in your idea 
that Paris is a dangerous residence,*' he replied • . • ; 
''but we must take the world as it goes.'' His enemies 
would enquire why he went away; he preferred that 
his friends should continue to wonder why he remained. 
''The first of all enjoyments is that which results in 
doing our duty.** Morris's "Diary," written by a 
man who knew how to write, is filled with pithy r^ec- 
tions and illuminating entries. Until the Revolution 
began to jar the nerves of the self-confident Morris, 
he evidentiy enjoyed his experiences in the salons and 
boudoirs of Paris and lost little flesh bemoaning the 
woes of those whom La Fayette was seeking to rescue 
from the thrall of despotism. Madame de Stael looked 
with flirtatious sympathy upon his peg leg, and the 
aristocrats whose blood was as yet unlet partook of 
his wine and appreciated his witty cynicism. 

Morris's house, later occupied by Monroe was at 
488 Rue de la Planche, Faubourg St. Germain. Ann 
Gary Morris, editor of the "Diary," says: "To judge 
from the allusions he makes to furniture, porcelain 
and hangings, to his garden and the general arrange- 
ment of the house, it must have been eminently fitted 
for the entertaining and lavish hospitality which 
characterized it. "There was a tun of sautume in 
the cellar and a tun of claret," to say nothing of pipes 
of Madeira and port. Morris was a busy man. 
Admiral Paul Jones lay dying. Morris went to see him. 
Poor Jones, stuttering and in the death-fight, begged 
Morris to look after his affairs. A will was drawn. 
Morris went to his house for dinner; and then back 
to the lodgings where the hero lay — he was "dead, 
not yet cold." 

Morris had a country place "Sainport, a modest 
pied-4-terre on the Seine" not far from Paris. He 
wrote of it to Robert Morris: "I have about twenty 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 178 

acres of land about twenty miles from the barrier of 
Paris in summer (by means of cross-roads); I have 
about twenty-seven miles to Paris, and from hence to 
Fontainebleau about fifteen." . . . His neat little 
house had " a pretty little garden and some green 
trees." The Seine was about as broad as the Schuyl- 
kill at Swedesford, but deeper. That was a protection. 
There was another protection — a strong stone wall. 
That bloody spring — the Robespierre spring — when 
Paris reeked, Morris was among his flowers at Sainport. 
He was there in midsummer, and it was from Sainport 
that he came to greet his successor. 

Morris and Monroe are bracketed in the history of 
this particular period: and so are Morris and Paine, 
as well as Monroe and Paine. Thomas Paine, "Doubt- 
ing Thomas," (bom a Quaker at Thetford, England, 
January 29, 1736-7; died in New York, June 8, 1809) 
sailed in a privateer, Captain Death, when a boy; 
learned to be a staymaker; became an excise man; 
reached America in the fall of 1774; participated in 
the Revolution as a soldier, secretary, and controversial- 
ist and earned great celebrity by reason of his pamph- 
lets. His "Common Sense" oiled the ways and made 
possible the launching of the Declaration. He was 
sui generis; his activities were innumerable. He drank 
much at times, but not more than his contemporaries. 
Notwithstanding his love of mankind and his vast 
labors unrewarded, he was accused of irreligion, and 
so fell under the ban of the orthodox. He himself was 
certainly unorthodox; there is no doubt of that; but 
Moncure D. Conway who exploded many fallacies 
concerning him, makes him out a good deal of a Quaker. 
There is a Paine cult; and a Paine claim, for that 
matter; it is insisted that his nature was in reality 
profoundly religious. But Paine^ made enemies fool- 
ishly, as well as friends despite his folly, because he 
tried hard to help mankind — not merely in America 

^ Th« Life of Thomas Paine, by Moncure D. Conway. 1892, 8 voIb. 
Writings of Thomas Paine, by Moncure D. Conway, 1908, 4 vols. 



174 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

and France, but in England, where he was outlawed, 
and in other coimtries. That his creed was ''liberty 
and Humanity" makes his failure in France all the 
more tragic. In defending Paine, Conway is perhaps 
too critical of Morris. Certainly, he is remoraeless. 
Neither Morris nor Paine appeared to care a great 
deal whether they had enemies or not. Each was a 
hard-hitter. JeflPerson, La Fayette and Paine got along 
better. La Fayette sent the key of the Bastille to 
Washington by the hand of Paine. "The principles rf 
America opened the Bastille," said Paine. "Morris," 
declares Conway, "was entrusted by the President 
with a financial mission which, being secret, swelled 
him to importance in the imagination of the courtiers. 
At JeflPerson's request, Gouvemeur Morris posed to 
Houdon for the bust of Washington; and when, to 
Morris's joy, JeflPerson departed, he posed politically 
as Washington to the eyes of Europe. He was scandal- 
ized that JeflPerson should retain recollections of the 
Declaration of Independence strong enough to desire 
for France *a downright republican form of govern- 
ment*; and how it happened that imder JeflPerson's 
Secretaryship of State, this man whom even Hamilton 
pronounced an * exotic* in a republic, was appointed 
Minister to France is a mystery remaining to be solved. 
Morris had a ' high old time ' in Europe. Intimacy with 
Washington secured him influence with La Fayette, 
and the fine ladies of Paris, seeking official favors for 
relatives and lovers, welcomed him to boudoirs, baths 
and bedrooms to which his diary now introduces the 
public." ^ It was natural, adds Conway that such a 
man should try to brush Paine aside. Paine wrote to 
JeflPerson that Morris's appointment was a "most unfor- 
tunate one," and that he should tell him so when he 



* Conway, Life of Paine, Vol. I, pp. 269-270. For instance, Morris was a fre- 
quent visitor at the bedside of Madame de Falhaut. "She is still ill in bed,** 
runs an entry in his Diary, February 24, 1791, "play sixpenny whist with her." 
Together tliey devised a Constitution for France. Morris wrote to Alexander 
Hamilton, October 24, 1792, "That the late Constitution of this country has 
overset — a natural accident to a thing which was all sail and no ballast." 



THE UPE OF JAMES MONROE 175 

saw him. A few days later, Morris wrote in his " Diary/* 
"He [Paine] seems to become every hour more drunk 
with self-conceit." Burke's book was good; Paine's 
"Rights of Man" all wrong. Morris, the antithesis 
of Paine, laughed at Paine's idea of founding a European 
Republic. They could hardly agree on anything, 
though there is one thing they had in common — the 
wish to preserve the life of Louis XVI. That Morris 
wanted to prevent Paine from returning to America 
lest Paine should expose him was one of Paine's obses- 
sions and that Robespierre was similarly averse to an 
advertisement abroad of his various wickednesses was 
another fancy of a troubled brain. Morris's mind was 
reflected in his thought that if the King and Queen 
should go under the axe, horrified Europe would raise 
great armies wherewith to assail France. Paine's mind 
was reflected in his epigram: "Kill the King but not 
the man." Again he stressed his grand creed "Liberty 
and Humanity." Yes, the "and" meant much. Conway 
cites the words of Dumas' hero. Dr. Gilbert (in '^Ange 
Pitou^^) as illustrating the peculiar problem of liberty 
in France. Though liberty is his passion. Dr. Gilbert 
would save the King. "It is not the liberty of France 
alone that I dream of; it is the liberty of the whole 
world." Paine would save the life of Louis, and send 
him to America. Be humane. Let him live. Let him 
begin again. Paine^ put something of a curse upon 
himself when he took the stand. He was a member of 
the National Convention from the Puy de Dome, in 
La Fayette's part of France. Abominating monarchy, 
as he did, he nevertheless was bold enough, with so 
much blood about him, to cry out in behalf of humanity. 
Marat browbeat him before the assembly of deputies. 
Paine was unable to use the French tongue; so Deputy 
Bancal translated his speech. Marat put up the plea 
that Bancal was misinterpreting Paine. Thuriot cried: 
"This is not the language of Thomas Paine," Marat's 

> Writings of Paine, Conway, Vol. Ill, pp. 119-124, Reasons for preserving the 
Life of Louis Capet, as delivered in the National Convention, January li)», 1703. 



176 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

voice was heard above the hubbub: "I denounce the 
interpreter!" Paine, still standing in the tribune, 
declared the sentiments to be his. **Ah, citizens" 
he said, '^give not the tyrant of England the triumph 
of seeing the man perish on the scaffold who had aided 
my much-loved America to break his chains!" A 
dramatic scene followed. All was in a ferment — an 
uproar. The implacable Marat, ravening for the King's 
blood, launched himself in the middle of the hall. 
"Paine," he cried, "voted against the punishment erf 
death because he is a Quaker." "I voted against it 
from both moral motives and motives of pubUc policy" 
said Paine. ^ • According to Louis Blanc, there was 
method in Marat's madness on this occasion. He 
interrupted in order to destroy the effect of Paine's 
appeal.' ( But Paine lost by seventy votes in six hundred 
and ninety; and the Mountain won. Louis was guillo- 
tined. Marie Antoinette likewise perished. There 
was an intensification of horrors. Marat denounced 
Paine, and his numerous enemies were soon clamoring 
for his death. 

Conway constantly finds much amiss in Morris. 
Paine did not intrigue against him. Yet Paine wrote, 
September 5, 1793, to Barrere — "a sensualist, a crafty 
orator, a sort of eel which in danger turned into a sort 
of snake," then at the head of the all-powerful Com- 
mittee of Public Safety: "Gouverneur Morris, who is 
here now, is badly disposed toward you. . . . Morris is 
not popular in America." Morris wrote to Robert 
Morris, June 25, "I suspected that Paine was intriguing 
against me, although he put on a face of attachment. 

^ '*Tbe course of Paine in the Convention was very creditable to him/' says 
Elihu B. Washbume (Recollections of a Minister, II, pp. SS5-336). His speech 
was read for him. It created a tremendous sensation among the Monta^iards 
many of whom declared that it was not properly translated; and it was only wheo 
Garon de Coulon, a member of the Convention of Paris, who understood Engliah 
perfectly, declared that the translation was correct, that the Convention was 
satisfied- From that moment Paine was lost; and Robespierre and others of his 
ilk became his deadly enemies. 

» Hist, de La RecdiUion, Vol. VII, p. 896; Guizot, Hist of France, Vol. VI 
p. 136. Conway's Writings of Paine, Vol. Ill, pp. 125-127: "Shall Louis XM 
nave respite?" Speech in the Convention, January 19, 179S. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 177 

... I am confirmed in the idea for he came to my 
house with Col. Oswald, and being a little more drunk 
than usual, behaved extremely ill, and through his 
insolence I discovered clearly his vain ambition." 
For one thing, Paine was not as abusive of Morris as 
Morris was of Paine. Of the period under consideration, 
Paine subsequently wrote: 

^The internal aoene here from the 81 of May, 1798, to the fall 
of Bobespierre has been terrible. I was shut up in the prison of 
the Luxembourg eleven months, and I find by the papers of 
Bobespierre that have been published by the Convention since 
his death that I was designed for a worse fate. The following 
memorandum is in his own handwriting: *D6mander que Thomas 
Paine sait d6cr6U d* accusation pour les interits de VAmerique auiani 
que de la France. 



» »» 



"Propose that Thomas Paine be put on trial, in the 
interests of America as much as of France.'* Such is 
the entry in Robespierre's notebook in which he 
scrawled his "ideas and intentions" for the last three 
months of 1793. Robespierre suspected Morris; never- 
theless dissembled, because it was his business to look 
after diplomatic matters and he wished to conciliate 
America — a republic, the only ally of France. Morris 
played on the fact that America's treaty was with the 
dead king, not with the French Republic. It was well 
imderstood that Washington relied upon Morris; and 
there was a certain awe of this Republican-Aristocrat 
with the peg-leg. Especially did the power of Morris 
win the obeisance of citizens who thumbed their necks 
hopefully at night after horrid dreams of the bloody 
axe. "The terrors and schemes of Deforgues and Otto 
brought them to the feet of Morris." Some sea-captains 
had gone over Morris's head, when he had hectored 
them, and had appealed to Paine. What had Paine 
to do with it? Morris notified Minister Deforgues that 
in the future the Convention must deal with him. 
The Girondins including Paine, were denounced in the 
Convention. As with La Fayette, Brissot, Roland, 
Condorcet, the Revolution had rolled past Paine. 



178 THE UPE OF JAMES MONROE 

Deforgues spoke of the punishable conduct of Genet 
in America. Paine and Genet were out of it together. 
Conway scents a conspiracy, and who should be at 
the bottom of it but Morris? As a deputy, Paine was 
not subject to a new law for the imprisonment of 
foreigners; but if he could be got out of the Convention 
the law could be applied to him. 

''Such was the course pursued. Christmas day was celebrated 
by the terrorist Bourdon de I'Oise with a denunciation of Paine; 
They have toasted the patriotism of Thomas Paine. Eh Bien! 
Since the Brissotins disappeared from the bosom of the Con- 
vention he has not set foot in it. And I know that he intrigued 
with the former agent of the bureau of Foreign A£Pairs.' ~ 



>>» 



The Assembly so decreed. Paine was arrested next 
day and thrust into Luxembourg. 

Conway makes a powerful indictment of Morris. 
Party animosities in America were being repeated in 
France. It was Hamilton against Jefferson; Morris 
against Paine; as for Washington, he took his cues 
from the man who knew how to play a deep game 
subtly. Meantime Jay in England helped on the drama 
of the three nations. 

There is a very thrilling story that runs like this : 

*'A chalk-mark used to be put on the dungeon door of each 
prisoner who was picked out for execution. The door of Paine's 
cell swung open, so that when the marker passed along in the 
performance of his gruesome task he chalked the back of the door. 
Shortly after, Paine closed the door, so that the mark was inside 
and could not be seen. When the headsmen came in search of 
their victims, they saw no such mark on Paine*s door and ao he 
escaped the guillotine."^ 

Moncure D. Conway refers to this providential 
escape of his hero; Carlyle gives a version of it, along 
with other erroneous incidents, in his "French Revolu- 
tion"; and, strange to say, Paine himself seems to have 
accepted it as an actual occurrence. But John Golds- 

^ Footprints of Famous Americans in Paris, J. J. Conway, p. 45. Hib aooouot 
is a variant of a tale told by Sampson Perry, a journalist who was in prison wi^ 
Paine. It was copied from a newspaper into the Annual Biography, BiftSsb. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 179 

worthy Alger,^ who has put a thousand and one 
Parisian details of the time under the microscope, says 
that there was no door-chalking in the Luxembourg 
prison, where Paine was thrust on New Year's morning, 
1794, and where he was kept imtil October of the same 
year. Benoit, the keeper, was not unkind to him. 
Ei^teen Americans went in a body to the Convention 
and solicited his release. Among these was Joel Barlow' 
who made two efforts to rescue Paine. Morris, on the 
contrary, was not impelled to exert himself in Paine's 
behalf, though he must have known that the prisoner 
was in a desperately low state. He wrote of him in 
his "Diary'*: 

"I indine to think that if he is quiet in prison he may have the 
flood luck to be forgotten whereas, should he be brought much 
mto notice, the long-suspended axe might fall on him. I believe 
he thinks that I ought to claim him as an American citizen; but 
considering his birth, his naturalization in this country, and the 
place he filled, I doubt much the right, and I am sure that the 
daim would be, for the present at least, inexpedient and 
ineffectual. " 

While yet Monroe was in America, Paine was seized 
with fever, which "in its progress had every symptom 
of becoming mortal/' So Paine himself said, adding: 
**I was then with three chamber comrades, Joseph 
Vanhuele, of Bruges, Charles Bastini and Michael 
Robyns of Louvain. ... I have some reason to 

1 In Glimpses of the French Revolution. Myths, Ideals and Realities, pp. 88-S6. 

' If princes and nobles were driven from France there were some who were 
attracted thither even in the early stages of the Revolution, while Napoleon 
later on drew around him a galaxy of foreign satellites. To begin with the cen- 
trifugal action, history furnishes no parallel to such an overturn of thrones, and 
fli^t of monarchs [A^^ritten prior to the World War). ... As for the inmii- 
gration, though far less important in numbers and quality, it was not inconsiderable. 
Men of all nationalities hurried to Paris between 1789 and 1792 to see or serve 
the Revolution. There were English men and women like Paine (or shall we 
ledum him an American?) George Grieve, General Money, Thomas Christie, 
John Oswald, Helen Williams and Mary Wollstonecraft. Inere were Americans 
like Barlow, Eustace, Paul Jones, and Joshua Barney; Germans like Cloots, 
TVenck and George Foster; Belgians and Dutchmen like de Kock, father oi the 
novelist, and Proly, a natural son of the Austrian statesman Kaimitz; Poles, like 
Wittin^off; Russians like Strogonoff; Italians like Rotondo, Cenitti and Buon- 
aiotti; Spaniards, like Olavide and Miranda." — Napoleon's British Visitors, by 
John Goldsworthy Alger. Many of the men named_weie enthusiasts; acme died 
hj the guillotine or in dungeon depths. 



180 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

believe, because I cannot discover any other, that this 
iUness preserved my own existence. . . . From what 
cause it was that the intention [of Robespierre] was 
not put into execution I know not, and cannot inform 
myself, and therefore I ascribe it to impossibility on 
account of that illness." Robespierre meant that 
Paine should go imder the axe. Alger says that ^*the 
Luxembourg prisoners were carried oflf to the Conder- 
gerie on July 6, and were condemned, not in one batch 
of 168 [as the chalk-mark story had it] but in three 
batches of 60, 48 and S6, 144 in all, on the 7th, 0th 
and 10th. Robespierre was overturned three weeks 
later, 9th Thermidor, year II." Not a miracle, but 
the fall of the terrorist and the arrival of Monroe, who 
would be as eager as Morris was cold, saved Paine 
from sharing the fate of the uncrowned king he had 
tried to snatch from the scaffold. 

While on shipboard, Monroe seems to have been in 
doubt as to whether Gouverneur Morris would be a 
help or a hindrance in getting acquainted with the 
important officials of France. As we have seen, even 
the legend of a peg-leg in course of time becomes 
outworn; and Morris was now looked upon with both 
awe and disfavor in Paris. In fact, it is asserted by 
Conway that Morris^ was now manoeuvring to get 
out of France by way of Switzerland, with as little 
friction and as much impedimenta as possible. We 
have seen what Monroe thought of Morris when his 
name was before the Senate; and we have indicated 
his present estimate of the value, or lack of value, 
involved in his introductions. Foreseeing this situation, 
Monroe had arranged with a fellow-passenger to make 
him acquainted in the circle of power when lo! upon 
their arrival, the bloody circle had vanished as com- 
pletely as the circle of Danton, and all the preceding 
circles, which seemed indeed but agitations made by 
some magic stone cast into the dark pool of destiny. 

> In his Life of Thomas Paine, 2 vols., where there are many referenoes to 
Morris and Monroe. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 181 

At any rate the "fellow-passenger" ceased to be of use. 
In a letter to Madison (September 2) Monroe wrote: 

''It was not prudent to avail myself of his aid in presenting or 
even making known my arrival to the Conmiittee of Public Safety, 
and I was averse to taJdng the introduction of my predecessor for 
as good a reason. I did not know the ground upon which the 
Americans stood here, but suspected, as tihe acquisition of wealth 
had been their object in coming, they must have attached them- 
selves to some preceding party and worn out their reputations. 
Upon mature rejection, therefore, I resolved to await tie arrival 
of my predecessor and present myself as a thing of course with 
him. I concluded it would do me no detriment as it was the 
official mode and more especially as he would have to file off at 
the moment I took my groimd. This was done. He accompanied 
me to the Office of Foreign Affairs, notified his recall and my 
succession.^ I left with the Commissary a copy of my credentials 
and requested my recognition from the competent department 
as soon as possible which was promised. But my difficulties did 
not end here. Eight or ten days elapsed* and I was not accepted, 
nor had I heard a syllable from the Conunittee or seen a member. 
And upon inquiry I was informed that a minister from Geneva had 
been here six weeks before me and was not yet received. Still 
further to increase my embarrassments I likewise heard that the 
Commissary to whom I was presented being of Robespierre's 
party was out of favor, and that probably his letter covering my 
credentials had not been read by the Conmiittee. I could no longer 
bear with delay. I foresaw that the impression to be expected 
from the arrival of a new minister might be lost, and that by the 
trammel of forms and collision of parties I might^while away 
my time here forever without effect. I was therefore resolved 
to place myself if possible above these difficulties, by ad(h*essing 
myself immediately to the Convention. I knew this would attract 
the public attention and if my country had any weight here 
produce a proportional effect not only upon that body, but upon 
every subordmate department." 



1 Morris wrote to Robert Morris, August 14: "PresentiDg my successor, which 
I did yesterday, to the Commissioners, has given me more pleasure than any 
event for many months." Anne Gary Morris says that he intended to letum 
to America and found a ship but ''events in Europe were so interesting" that 
he remained for four years. In October, 1794, he sent his household goods by 
the diip **Superba'* to New York. Included was a large quantity of Marie Antoin- 
ette's Imperial Tokay, which Morris, during the Terror bou^t for twenty-five 
cents a bottle. The last bottle of this Tokay was opened at a wedding party in 
New York in 1848. Monroe had trouble with Morris's paaq)ortf. Idorris left 
France by way of Switzerland. 

< In ''Paris in 1789-94," J. G. Alger tells of the lectures or services that took 
place on the Jacobin Sabbath, D^cadi. He adds: "On the 9th of August, the 



182 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

Monroe's letter was read in the Convention which, 
though puzzled at first soon referred it to the Com- 
mittee of Public Safety. This body made a report 
within two hours. Just as Monroe had anticipated, 
it was agreed that he should be received by the Con- 
vention, "but," says Alger, "without any of the 
absurd ceremonial of the monarchy, and that the 
President should give him the accolade fratemeUey in 
token of the friendship of the two nations." Tliat 
same day a decree was issued granting James Monroe 
the privilege of appearing on the morrow, August 15, 
before the National Convention. 

Here, then, we have come to one of the important 
events in Monroe's life — an episode of historic 
picturesqueness and significance. 

There was at least one embarrassment in the pre- 
liminaries. An hour or two before the time set for the 
function, the President of the Convention sent to 
Monroe for a copy of his address. This President was 
Antoine Phillipe Merlin of Douai, a lawyer and deputy 
from the Department of the Nord. Elihu B. Wash- 
burne says : " He was always called and known in public 
life as Merlin (de Douai), to distinguish him from 
Antoine Merlin, another deputy from the Department 
of the Moselle, a lawyer at Thionville, who was known 
as Merlin (de Thionville)."^ With reference to the 
address, Monroe says: "I thought it expedient to 
make the occasion as useful as possible in drawing the 
two republics more closely together by ties of affection 
by showing them the interest which every department 
of our government took in their success and prosperity. 
With this view I laid before the Convention, with 
suitable solemnity, the declarations of the Senate and 
House of Representatives, and added a similar one 



D6cadi after Robespierre's fall, the perils of idolizing public men in a republic 
were appropriately dwelt upon. The American Ambassador and his wife were 
present. Thev had just arrived in Paris and were probably staying close by at 
White's hotel — Hotel Philadelphie, passage des Petite Phee. 

^ Recollections of a Minister to France, by £. B. Washbume, 2 vols.. Vol. H, p. 
886. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 18S 

for the President. The effect surpassed my expecta- 
tions. My reception occupied an hour and a half of 
not merely interesting but distressing sensibility for all 
who beheld it. It was with diflBculty that I extricated 
myself from the House and Committee of Public Safety 
and indeed the crowd which surrounded it after busi- 
ness was over. The cordial declaration of America in 
favor of France and the French Revolution ... in 
view of all Europe, and at a time when they were torn 
asunder by parties was a gratification which over- 
powered them." 

Elihu B. Washbume was American Minister to 
France, 1869-1877, during the Commune. In Vol. II 
pp. S30-336 of his Recollections, he tells of his visits 
to the National Archives where he looked into the 
dossier of Thomas Paine and that of James Monroe. 
He copied this extract from the proces verbal (journal) 
of the National Convention of August 15, 1794: 
"Citizen Monroe, Minister Plenipotentiary of the 
United States of America near the French Republic 
is admitted to the hall at the sitting of the National 
Convention. He takes his place in the midst of the 
representatives of the people, and remits to the Presi- 
dent of the Convention a translation of his discourse 
addressed to the National Convention. It is read by 
one of the secretaries. The expressions of fraternity 
and union between the two peoples, and the interest 
which the United States takes in the French Republic, 
are heard with a lively sensibility and with applause. 
The letter of credence of Citizen Monroe is also read, 
as well as those written by the American Congress and 
addressed to the President of the National Convention 
and to the Committee of Public Safety. In witness of 
the fraternity which unites the two peoples, French 
and American, the President gives the accolade (the 
fraternal embrace) to Citizen Monroe." 

The best contemporary account is in the Moniteur 
(XXI, 496-500) which says: "The Minister entered 
the hall amidst cries of 'Vive la Republique': and the 



184 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

President, having announced that Mr. Monroe spoke 
only the English language, one of the Secretaries was 
ordered to read the discourse the Minister had prepared. 
The Minister was conducted to the President, who gave 
the kiss and the embrace in the midst of universal 
acclamations of joy, delight and admiration." 

Then the Convention passed a decree containing 
three articles. In the first Monroe was recognized as 
minister — the first accredited American Minister to 
the French Republic. In the second article, letters 
of credence, his address, the addresses remitted by him, 
and the response of Merlin of Douai, were ordered to 
be printed in two languages — Frefach and American — 
and inserted in the Bulletin of Correspondence. 

"The frantic hatred existing and felt by the French 
toward the English," comments Washburne, ** would 
not permit the Convention to recognize our mother 
tongue as the English language, hence they called it 
*the American language.'" In the third article of the 
decree it was provided that "the flag of the United 
States of America shall be joined to that of France 
and displayed in the Hall of the Convention as a sign 
of the union and eternal fraternity of the two peoples. '* 

While at the Hague as Resident Minister of the 
United States, John Quincy Adams paid his respects 
to| ithe French Commissioners then, January, 1795, 
at that Capital. He calls them the ^'Citoyens Repre- 
sentans du Peuple Francais.** They spoke of 
Mr. Monroe's reception by the National Convention. 
^'Parbleu/* said one, "it was a seine attendrissante.** 
It was "wne des phis fameuses stances'* of the Con- 
vention. There were more than ten thousand persons 
present. **He shed tears, he was so much affected. 
I saw him cry.' *Ah!' said another, ^c^Haii aussi bien 
de quoi faire pleurer. * Then they said one of the flags 
had been sent to America. In short the national 
character appeared in nothing more conspicuous than 
in the manner in which they spoke of this occurrence. 
They inquired if Mr. Morris was in Switzerland. I 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB. 185 

answered them, I did not know; that I had no personal 
acquaintance with Mr. Morris. *Ah!* said the Citoyen 
who appeared to be at the head of the deputation, 
^La France sail parfaitment qu^il est en Suisse.* He 
spoke with peculiar emphasis, but I did not think 
proper to make any further enquiry of him on the 
subject."^ . r 

Morris' adherents at once raised a cry against 
Monroe. Roosevelt* says: "Washington wrote him 
[Morris] a letter warmly approving of his past conduct. 
Nevertheless, Morris was not over-pleased at being 
recalled. He thought that, as things were in France, 
any minister who gave satisfaction to his government 
would prove forgetful of the interests of America. He 
was probably right; at any rate, what he feared was 
just what happened under his successor, Monroe — 
a very amiable gentleman, but distinctly one who 
comes in the category of those whose greatness is 
thrust upon them." Roosevelt saturated with his 
subject, the aristocratic, Federalistic, anti-Gallican 
Gouvemeur Morris, looks with the eyes of a partisan 
upon poor Monroe, who is unaristocratic, anti-Fed- 
eralistic and pro-Gallican. Roosevelt says: "Monroe, 
as Morris' successor, entered upon his new duties with 
an immense flourish, and rapidly gave a succession of 
startling proofs that he was a minister altogether too 
much to the taste of the frenzied Jacobinical republi- 
cans to w hom he was accredited.' Indeed his capers 

^ Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, Vol. I. p. 62. 

• Gouveraeur Morris, by Th«)dore Roosevelt, pp. 29S-S(M. 

* Rufus King said in a letter to U. Le Roy, New York. November 0, 1704: "And 
as for theJMountain Mr. Monroe appears seated upon, I sincerely hope it may 
prove to be formed of snow, and for the good of Mankind dissolve with the approach- 
ing summer.*' — Beveridge's Marshall, Vol. II, p. 222 says: "Monroe, a partisan 
of the Revolutionists, had begun his mission with theatrical blunders; and these 
he continued until his recall, when he climaxed his imprudent conduct by hif 
attack on Washington. During most of his mission Monroe was under the in- 
fluence of Thos. raine, who had become the venomous enemy of Washington. 
. • . But Monroe though shallow, was well-meaning, and he had a good excuse 
for over-enthusiasm; for hb instructions were 'Let it be seen that in case of war 
with any nation on earth, we shall consider France as our first and natural ally.' " 
See American SUte Papers, For. Rel., Class II, 669; Ticknor, II, 118, Paine and 
Monroe: Paine's Writings, Conway, III, 868-69. For Washington on Bionroe's 
View, see Ford. XUI. 452; see McMaster, II, 257-259, 819-870. 



186 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

were almost as extraordinary bs their own, and seem 
rather like the antics of some of the early French 
conmianders in Canada, in their efforts to ingratiate 
themselves with their Indian allies, than like the per- 
formance we should expect from a sober Virginia gentle- 
man on a mission to a civilized nation. He stayed long 
enough to get our affairs into a snarl, and was then 
recalled by Washington, receiving from the latter moie 
than one scathing rebuke. " 

"However the fault was less with him than with his 
party and with those who sent him, Monroe was an 
honorable man with a very unoriginal mind, and he 
simply reflected the wild, foolish views held by all his 
fellows of the Jeffersonian democratic-republican schod 
concerning France — for our politics were still Frendi 
and English, but not yet American. His appointment 
was an excellent example of the folly of trying to carry 
on a government on a *non-partisan' basis. Washington 
was only gradually weaned from this theory by bitter 
experience; both Jefferson and Monroe helped to teach 
him the lesson. . . . To appoint Monroe, an extreme 
democrat, to France, while at the same time appoint- 
ing Jay, a strong Federalist to England, was not only 
an absurdity, which did nothing toward reconciling 
the Federalist and Democrats, but, having in mind 
how these parties stood respectively towards England 
and France, it was also an actual wrong, for it made 
our foreign policy seem double-faced and deceitful. 
While one minister was formally embracing such of the 
Parisian statesmen as had hitherto escaped the guillo- 
tine, and was going through various other theatrical 
performances that do not appeal to any but a GaUic 
mind, his fellow was engaged in negotiating a treaty 
in England that was so obnoxious to France as almost 
to bring us to a rupture with her. ... If we intended 
to enter into such engagements with Great Britain, 
it was rank injustice to both Monroe and France to 
send such a man as the former to such a country as the 
latter. '' 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 187 

This Morrisian and partisan view of Monroe's char- 
acter and conduct is open to dissent. The best thing 
for one to do in seeking to form a just opinion is to 
re-read Monroe's instructions. Did he go beyond them? 
But for the accolade fratemeUe it cannot be urged that 
the reception in the hall of the Convention was so 
dreadfully Gallic, or imseemly, Monroe himself must 
have felt that it was imusual and likely to arouse 
feeling on the part of those who, having lost sight of the 
original purpose of the Revolutionists, which was to rid 
France of age-long despotism, now saw only the bloody 
excesses of fiie terrorists. Referring to his presentation 
of the ofiBcial reply of the United States Senate and 
House of Representatives to the French Committee 
of Public Safety, Monroe wrote to Madison: "I doubt 
not this measure will be scanned with unfriendly eyes 
by many in America. They will say that it was intended 
that these things should have been smuggled in secretly 
and as secretly deposited afterwards. But they are 
deceived if they suppose me capable of being the 
instrument of such purposes. On the contrary, I have 
endeavored to take the opposite groimd, widi a view 
of producing the best effect here as well as there. 
And I am well satisfied that it has produced here a 
good effect. It is certain that we had lost in a great 
measure the confidence of the nation.*' 

But Monroe had run a greater risk than he had 
supposed. Secretary Randolph heard of Robespierre's 
downfall October 9, and wrote to Washington that he 
"felt himself happy that Colonel Monroe's instruc- 
tions forbid him to attach himself to the uncertain fate 
of any individuals." Then came news of Monroe's 
friendly affair with Robespierre's successors. Randolph 
wrote a rebuke. He could see why, in the confusion of 
things, the haU of the National Convention had become 
the "theatre of diplomatic civilities." 

But — 

"We should have supposed that an introduction 
there would have brought to mind these ideas: ^The 



188 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

United States are neutral; the allied Powers jealous; 
with England we are now in treaty; by England we 
have been impeached for breaches of faith in favor 
of Prance; our citizens are notoriously Galilean in 
their hearts; and therefore in the disclosure of 
feelings something is due to the possibility of fostering 
new suspicions/ Under the influence of these senti- 
ments, we should have hoped that your address to the 
National Convention would have been so framed as to 
leave heart-burning nowhere. . . . We do not perceive 
that your instructions have imposed upon you the 
extreme glow of some parts of your address. . . . You 
have it still in charge to cultivate the French Republic 
with zeal, but without any imnecessary eclat; because 
the dictates of sincerity do not demand that we should 
render notorious all our feelings in favor of that 
nation. " 

Randolph eased his censure with a private note; 
and, December 5, said: "We are fully sensible of the 
importance of the friendship of the French Republic 
Cultivate it with zeal, proportioned to the value we 
set upon it. Remember to remove every suspicion 
of our preferring a connection with Great Britain, 
or in any manner weakening our old attachment to 
France. '' 

As a matter of fact, it was not Randolph and the 
Administration who were aggrieved; it was Monroe 
who soon began to feel exceedingly uncomfortable on 
aceoimt of Jay. It dawned upon him that he might 
be compromised in the eyes of his French friends if 
Jay should negotiate a treaty inimical to French 
interests. He was sincere in his deep desire to rees- 
tablish the most amicable relations with France; could 
he look Frenchmen in the eye if it should turn out that 
he was merely making a diversion until Jay could clinch 
his British treaty? He wrote to Madison, December 18: 

"After all there is but one kind of policy which is safe, which 
is the honest policy. If it was intended to cultivate France by 
sending me here Jay sho'd not have been sent to Engl'd, but if 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 188 

indeed it was intended to' cultivate Engl'd it was wise to send 
some such person as myself here, for it was obvious that in pro- 
portion as we stood well with France sho'd we be respected by 
Engl'd/' 

In a letter of the same date to Randolph, he reminded 
the Secretary of Jay's shortcomings m the Gardoqui 
negotiations, and warned him that England would 
oflfer to give America certain things already ours. 
England would agree to give up this and that — the 
western posts, for instance; when she should have 
surrendered them on the terms of the peace treaty long 

ago. 

Sure enough the Committee of Public Safety soon 
suspected that something was afoot agreeable to 
England and disagreeable to Prance. Monroe was 
quizzed. What was Citizen Jay*s purpose? Did he 
mean to tolerate an infraction of the Prench-American 
treaty? Did Monroe himself propose to permit such a 
thing? Monroe exerted himself to soothe this dis- 
quietude and, in part, succeeded. But he was unable 
to reassure himself, much less the suspicious Committee 
on Public Safety. Jay was secretive. He sent Colonel 
Trumbull from London to Paris, who was to talk with 
Monroe but in "strict confidence."^ To have invited 
TrumbulFs communication* would have put Monroe 
in a peculiar dilemma — a false position. He saw 
through the artifice, and refused to enter into a secret 
confab with Colonel Triunbull. When Trumbull 
returned to London, he found Morris there. Morris 
writes of him: "He says Mr. Monroe found it difficult 
to change principles fast enough so as to keep pace 
with the changes in the Prench government" — a mere 
bit of wit of Morris's caustic kind.' The Prench looked 
askance upon Trumbull. It seemed to them as though 
Jay and Monroe were up to mischief. To Monroe, at 
times, it must have appeared as though Jay's chief 



^ American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. I, p. 518. 

* Johnston's Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Vol. VI, p. 179. 

* Morris's Diary, Vol. II, p. US. 



190 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

reason for being bom was to harry him. If he had sudi 
a whimsical tiiought one moment, he must have 
laughed at himself for it the next. 

It was evident that Jay*s Treaty of Amity, Commerce 
and Navigation was going through. It did go through. 
It was signed November 19, deUvered to Randolph, 
March 7, 1795, and ratified August 18. Next day 
Randolph resigned. He was succeeded by Timothy 
Pickering, December 10. Meantime, Thomas Pinckney 
had gone out as minister to Spain; had visited Monroe 
in Paris, and had negotiated a treaty at Madrid. 
Monroe was perhaps of some help to Pinckney, as he 
had been m correspondence with various well-informed 
persons in relation to Spanish, Algerian and Malta 
affairs. Don Diego ' de Gardoqui had sought to open 
negotiations with France through Monroe.^ In fact 
the fall of 1794 and winter and spring of 1795 were 
busy months with Monroe. The Consul-General at 
Paris was Fulwar Skip with of Virginia; and he, too, 
had his hands full. 

From the beginning of the French mission one 
observes in Monroe's letters an excellent access of the 
spirit of statesmanship — more clarity, directness, 
force. Most of the letters in Volume 11 of his Writings 
will repay reading, as contemporary chapters on the 
terrible days in France. His history of the Jacobins 
made an impression in Randolph's oflSce. Washington 
was denouncing the Democratic Societies in America, 
and extracts from Monroe's account were published 
;^as from a letter of a gentleman m Paris to his friend 
in this city." Monroe resented this misuse of his 
matter. He wrote to Judge Jones, Jime 20, 1795, that 
he regarded it as an ** unbecoming and uncandid thing" 
to reproduce what he had said about "the misfortunes 
of that misguided club" — the least important of the 

^ See Letters from Monroe to Randolph, Jefferson, Madison and to the French 
Committee of Public Safety, in Writings uf Monroe, Vol. II, p. 65, et mo. A 
thorough study of "The Monroe Mission to France" by Beverly W. Bond, Jr, 
appeared] in the Johns Hopkins studies for February-March, 1907, and may be 
found in Vol. XXV, pp. 5-101. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 191 

many subjects he had dwelt upon in his correspondence. 

But what of troubled Paris all this time — what of 
the La Fayettes, what of Tom Paine, what of the 
Monroes themselves? 

One interesting incident was the presentation of an 
American flag to the National Convention. Monroe 
entrusted this duty to his good friend Joshua Barney, 
then Captain, later Commodore, in the United States 
Navy. Barney, too, received the accolade. He it 
was who, with Monroe's nephew, carried the same 
flag at the head of the column of Americans when the 
body of Jean Jacques Rousseau was borne to the 
Pantheon. 

Meantime Monroe was active in behalf of General 
La Fayette and his family. La Fayette himself was 
in Olmutz dungeon, in Austria. Mme. de La Fayette 
was in Paris. At first she was in Le Petit Force prison, 
but at this time was five stories up in a garret at 
Le Plessis. She had lost three of her family by the 
guillotine — grandmother, mother and sister — the 
Duchesse d'Ayen, the Vicomtesse de Noailles and the 
Marechale de Noailles, who had gone to their death 
together. The Monroes visited her and gave her all 
the comfort and care they could. It was a terrible 
winter for her, but thanks to the Monroes and other 
friends, she survived and was allowed to revisit her 
home in Auvergne, subsequently sending her son 
George Washington La Fayette to General Washington 
at Mount Vernon and going herself, with her two 
daughters, to share her husband's prison at Olmutz. 
Monroe wrote to Washington concerning these things 
but especially about the .Ainerican voyage of his name- 
sake. 

When Robespierre fell, Paine was almost at death's 
door. For a month his memory was a blank. A message 
from Monroe revived him. Monroe sent word of his 
solicitude. He would try to get Paine out of Luxem- 
bourg. Fifteen days later Peter Whiteside wrote to 
Paine and, on the strength of the Whiteside com- 



IM THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

munication, Paine addressed his celebrated Memorial 
to Monroe.^ ^ Paine wrote to Washington: '' Imme- 
diately upon my liberation, Mr. Monroe invited me 
to his house, where I remained more than a year and 
a half; and I speak of his aid and friendship, as an 
openhearted man always will do in such a case» with 
respect and gratitude. " 

It was on November 6, that Monroe rescued Paine 
from Luxembourg prison. Monroe' ''took him, half 
dead, to his own abode, then the Maison des EtrangerSf 
Rue de la Rot. This is now (1899) 101 Rue de Richelieu^ 
printing ofiBce of Le Temps and publishing office of the 
Gironde. It is the same building as in Paine's time, 
and several rooms retain traces of their former decora- 
tions. " Here Paine wrote much, including the second 
part of his heretical work "The Age of Reason.** This 
book, Conway avers, was originally intended to combat 
the French atheism of the Herbertists. It was to be 
printed in French only. Lanthenas translated the first 
part and sent a copy to Couthon. Paine says the 
atheists "threatened his life." The pamphlet was 
suppressed. Paine wrote to John Adams: 

''The people of France were running headlong into atheism; 
and I had the work translated in their own language to stop them 
in that career and fix them in the first article of every man's creedf 
who has any cjreed at all — I believe in God. " 

In Conway's "Life of Paine," we read: "A few 
months after his going out of prison, he had a violent 
fever. Mrs. Monroe showed him all possible kindness 
and attention. She provided him with an excellent 
nurse, who had for him all the anxiety and assiduity 
of a sister. She neglected nothing to afford him ease 
and comfort when he was totally unable to help him- 
self. He was in the state of a helpless child who had 
his hands and face washed by his mother. The surgeon 



^ M^moire h. M. Monroe, September, 1794, Parifl. This memorial is printed In 
full in Vol. lU, Conway's Writings of Paine, pp. 175-214. 

* Moncure D. Conway, Paris, March, 1809, to the London Athenaeum, April 1« 
1899. No. 3727. 



THE UFE OF JAMES MONROE 198 

was the famous Dessault, who cured him of an abscess 
which he had in his side." Conway continues: "The 
Monroes, early in 1796, removed to The Pavilion,' 
{de la Biuciere) Rue Clichyy where Paine continued with 
them, having become an important, though unofficial, 
attach^ of the Legation. *The Pavilion' was afterwards 
turned into the famous Tivoli Gardens. The site is in 
part built over and in part occupied by the Rues del 
Bruxelles and VentimUle. " 

After the Monroes had left Paris, Paine lived with 
Nicolas de Bonneville, printer and publisher, 4, Ru^ 
Thiatre Francaisy now Rue de VOden. Paine wrote 
a great deal while with the Bonnevilles. "Napoleon 
flattered Paine, telling him he ought to have a statue 
of gold"; and also telling him that "the police had 
their eye on him" — a kiss and a backhander. Napoleon 
hinted that Paine had better put the sea behind him. 
This he would have done long before but for his dis- 
relish for British cruisers. One of them stopped 
Monroe's packet, in search of Paine. However, he 
accompanied the Bonnevilles to America. Mme. Bonne- 
ville was a motherly friend to Paine as long as he lived. 
Her son was the General Bonneville concerning whose 
adventures in the Rockies and on the plains Irving 
wrote so charmingly. While in Paris Paine wrote 
Washington a reproachful letter, but withdrew it at 
Monroe's request. Monroe was sensitive on a point 
of honor. He thought that Paine should not write 
on American or English aflFairs, while living with 
the American Minister. Then, suddenly, without 
consulting Monroe, he wrote another — a very bitter 
letter. Whether this reached Washington, or fell in 
the hands of Secretary Pickering is not clear. Paine 
did not hear from Washington.^ His next move was 



^ Washington, for his part, was careful as to what he wrote. The Due 
d'Aumale, son of Louis Philippe, told £. B. Washbume this story: Washington was 
a ver>' early riser, and always dressed himself most carefully, wearing knee- 
breeches and tiie like, and the first thin^ he did was to look into the negro cabins 
to see that everything was in good condition. Louis Philippe said to Washington 
on one occasion, "Why I you get up so early in the morning?" Washington 



194 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

to issue the letter in printed form, and this not only 
reached its object but proved to be something of a 
winged shaft that pierced and hurt him. It is a huge 
pity that Paine did not do as Monroe advised. Conway 
surmises that Washington had been embittered against 
Paine by the Genet incident, by the studied enmities 
of Morris, and by his apprehensiveness that a friendly 
word for Paine would antagonize England — a most 
undesirable matter in view of the Jay negotiations. 
Monroe tried hard not to hurt Washington's feelings, 
or have them hurt; but by and by party spirit made 
him do what he was subsequently profoundly sorry for. 
Monroe was Paine's friend to the last. Conway, 
speaking of James Cheetham, who, like George Chalmers 
(Francis Oldys) , wrote a hostile life of Paine, quotes him 
as saying that when Paine was near his end Monroe 
"wrote asking him to acknowledge a debt for money 
loaned in Paris and that Paine made me no reply.** 
"But before me,** adds Conway, "is Monroe's state- 
ment, while President, that for his advances to Paine 
*no claim was ever presented on my part, nor is any 
indemnity desired,*** 



answered, "Yes, young num, because I sleep well, and I sleep well because I ha^ 
never written a line with which I can reproach myself.*' "Lucky man!" said the 
Due, "how many men are there who can say as much!*' 



CHAPTER X 
Rise Of A Great Party 

Washington's non-partisan experiment, well-meant 
and midoubtedly useful at the start, in the long run 
deepened party feeling. 

By a paradox, Monroe, who was one of the victims 
of the experiment, also became one of its beneficiaries. 
His political martyrdom in Federalist times became 
an asset and an advertisement in Democratic days. 
He himself was an early partisan aggressor — hostile 
to Hamilton, to Jay, to Morris and, regretably enough, 
to Washington, whom he recognized, with veneration, 
as the foremost man of the age. 

Some of Monroe's enemies were hardly as scrupulous 
as they should have been, considering that they 
especially classed themselves as high-toned gentlemen. 
Gouverneur Morris outdid all the others in subtle 
enmity. December 19, 1795, he wrote to Washington: 

"Shortly after my sucx^essor arrived in Paris (viz., two or at 
moat three days) a person who was in the habit of telling me of 
what passed cdled, and began a conversation by saying: 'This 
new Minister you have sent us will never do here.' *Why?' *He 
is either a blockhead himself or thinks that we are so.' 'I can't 
suppose either to be the case, as I know him to be strongly attached 
to your Revolution. I should think he would succeed very well.* 
'No, it is impossible. Only think of a man's throwing himself 
into the arms of the first person he met on his arrival and telling 
them he had no doubt but that if they would do what was proper 
here, he and his friends in America woidd<umati<)F(M/itnj^ton. . . .' 
*I cannot believe the fact.' *You may rely on it, 'tis true. • . • I own 
that I. • . did not believe it." 

But if Morris did not believe it, why did he worry 
Washington with an account of it? In so many words, 
he says, "I did not believe it'*; yet it was outrageously 
slanderous against Monroe to repeat the alleged tattle 



trim 



196 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

of an unnamed Frenchman. This method of pouring 
poison into Washington's ear was logo's own — subtle, 
insinuating, provocative of hate. Morris wronged 
Monroe; and what he said was all the worse because 
he himself was in high favor with Washington. 

As time proved, Washington, who "did not at all 
like it, " was wise in signing the Jay treaty. It was a 
humiliating treaty, but it postponed "the second 
American Revolution" until the United States had 
doubled in population and had become so well-knit 
and so thoroughly democratized as to render pro- 
British sentiment less and less harmful. 

Men of anti-British feeling like Monroe saw the 
Anglo-American rapprochment with a di£Perent eye.* 
They stigmatized the Jay treaty as a base surrender. 
They resented England's domineering ways on the 
water, and her arrogance on the land. She meant 
mischief on the lakes and in the Mississippi Valley. 
She exalted the aristocrats and kept her masses in 
ignorance and poverty. High-handed, too, was this 
England, with her Orders in Council. Was she so 
privileged, then, that she could put a shot at her 
pleasure across the bows of an American vessel, bring 
her to, bobbing and ducking on the waves, board her, 
and examine her crew in search of runaway British 
sailors.^ When these sailors ran away and covertly 
shipped on American merchantmen, wasn't it because 
they had been flogged? Throw the cat into the sea! 
Stop belaboring poor Jack with a marlinspike till he was 
black and blue ! Be as little of a brute as you can, not 
as big a one. It is a bully that you are, John Bull, with 

^ Public proteitB were made at Boston (Fanueil Hall), New York, Philadelphia, 
Baltimore, Richmond, Portsmouth, Wihnington and Charleston. Town-meetings, 
as the Federalists called them, began in Boston, where 1500 persons met in protest 
against the Jay treaty. In New York, "the meeting was numerous and tumul- 
tuous." Hamilton tried to address it. He was stoned. In Philadelphia, the 
meeting was general and numerous. Chief Justice McKean, Speaker Muhlen- 
berg, Dr. Shippen and Blair McCJenachan were its sponsors. And so the wave 
pasMd from north to south until it reached Charleston. Anthony Wayne wrote: 
The man of straw," set up in Boston and which ran the seaboard gauntlet, 
"was tossed over the Allegheny mountains into Kentucky." See Life of Tim- 

^ Pickerings Vol. Ill, p. 201, et seq. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 197 

no love for Jonathan. But let other people's ships alone 
on so wide a space as the ocean, which belongs to no 
particular flag, whatever one's illusions about it. 

" Monroe's path in Paris was strewn more with thorns 
than roses," remarks John Joseph Conway,^ in his 
comment on the French furore occasioned by the Jay 
treaty. Adolphe Thiers says: 

"In the French government there were persons in favor <rf a 
rupture with the United States. Monroe, who was an ambassador, 
gave the Directory the most prudent advice on this occasion. *War 
with France,' said he, 'will force the American government to throw 
itself into the arms of England and to submit to her influence; 
aristocracy will gain supreme control in the United States, and 
liberty will be compromised. By patiently enduring, on the 
contrary, the wrongs of the present President, you will leave him 
without excuse, you will enlighten the Americans, and decide a 
contrary choice at the next election. All the wrongs of which 
France may have to complain will then be repaired. "* 

Monroe's earnest plea for peace vvron over Revvrbell, 
Barras, and Lareveillere, though it failed to win Lazare 
Camot, grandfather of President Sadi Camot, of more 
recent fame. In a letter to Pickering^ November 5, 
J 795, Monroe told of the installation of this Directory; 
nor did he balk at praising its members. He reminded 
Jefferson, November 18, that the ordeal through which 
France was passing, in the establishment of a republican 
system, had given her enemies opportunities to contrast 
her convulsions (caused by unbearable misrule) with 
"the gloomy and sullen repose of the neighboring 
despotisms." He had been silenced neither by the 
hubbub of his enemies in America nor the suspicious 
coldness of the French. For that matter, he had not 
grown less watchful. That fall he wrote to Madison: 
" Gardoqui, when he returned to Spain, settled a secret 
service account for six hundred thousand dollars.*** 

1 Footprints of Famous Americans in Paris, p. 87« 

* Thiers, Huioire de la Revolution, tome IX, ch. I. 

* Timothy Pickering, Secretary of War, was ad interim Secretary of State from 
August 20, 1795 to December 20, when he was regularly commissioned as hend 
aftbe State Department. 

^ For Bdadison, Jefferson and Pickering letters at this period* see Writings of 
Bfonroe, Vol. II, p. 968, etseq. 



198 . THB LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

But Monroe realized that he was in an untenable 
position — doubly so. He could not possibly please 
Pickering, who was much more censorious than the 
considerate Randolph, nor could he remain in the good 
graces of the French. John Quincy Adams says:^ 



**There are in the annals of all nations occasions when wisdmn 
and patriotism, and the brightest candor and the profoundest 
sagacity are alike unavailing for success. . . . The cufficulties of 
his (Monroe's) situation became much greater after the treaty had 
been ratified and was made public. The people of the United 
States . . . equally divided* were bitterly exasperated against 
each other/* 

John Spencer Bassett' says that when the treaty 
came out ** Monroe was so dumbfounded that he could 
only gasp.' He did not try to set himself right, and 
thought himself lucky that the ministry did not call 
upon him to explain his position." Pickering wished 
him to defend the treaty. But Monroe let the sleeping 
dog lie. He pocketed his instructions, and kept them 

Scketed for two months. But, says Avery* "while 
onroe thus failed to obey his instructions, he did not 
fail to keep the French Goyemment informed as to 
the fight against the treaty that was going on at home 
and, for some months, the Directory refrained from 
^ungentle remonstrance.* ". 

Pickering, Wolcott and McHenry of the Cabinet 
wrote a joint letter from Philadelphia, July 2, 1796, 
to Washington, at Mount Vernon, in reply to an inquiry 
by the President on the subject of the capture of the 
American vessel "Mount Vernon'* by the French 
privateer ** Flying Fish." Should an explanation be 

^ Lives of Madison and Monroe, p. 248. 

* The Federalist System (Amer. Nation Series), Vol. XI, pp. 213-216. 

* He wrote to Judge Jones: "Jay*s treaty surpasses all that I feared, great as 
my fears were of his mission. Indeed, it is the most shameful transaction I havn 
ever known of the kind." — Gouverneur Mss. 

* The terms of the treaty, when first seen in American journals, declares Avery, 
"made Monroe stand aghast." '*The French were greatly exasperated by what 
they considered the treacherous conduct of their old ally." There was no ques- 
tion that some of the articles of the Jay treaty controvened '*at least the spirit of 
the treaty of 1778."— A History of the United SUtes and lU People, by Elcoy M. 
Avery, Vol. VII, p. 138, et $eq. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE; 199 

asked of Minister Adet? Would it be within the power 
of the Executive and expedient "to send an extra 
character to Paris to explain the views of this govern- 
ment and to ascertain those of France?** The Cabinet 
oflBcers thought that a direct explanation should be 
demanded; and that "the recall of Mr. Monroe, by 
creating a vacancy, can alone authorize the sending of 
a new Minister to that Country/* They continued to 
animadvert upon the matter thus: 

"On the expedienpy of this change we arc agreed. We think 
the great interests of the United States require that they have 
near the French Government some faithful organ to explain their 
real views and to ascertain those of the French. Our duty obliges 
us to be explicit. Although the present Minister plenipotentiary 
of the United States at Paris has been amply furnished with 
documents to explain the views and conduct of tiie United States, 
yet his own letters authorize us to say that he has omitted to use 
them, and thereby exposed the United States to all the mischiefs 
which could flow, from jealousies and erroneous conceptions of 
their views and conduct. Whether this dangerous omission arose 
from such an attachment to the cause of France as rendered him 
too little remindful of the interests of his own country, or from 
Doistaken views of the latter, or from any other cause the evil is 
the same."^ 

Pickering, Woleott and McHenry thereupon advised 
Washington to recall Monroe and send in his place 
Patrick Henry, John Marshall, Charles Cotesworth 
Pinckney, or William Smith of South Carolina. The 
three Cabinet officers could not resist the temptation 
to have a final fling at Monroe. They added: 

"Among other circumstances that will occur to your recollection, 
the anonymous letters from France to Thomas Blount and others 



1 Irving says, life of Washington, Vol. V, p. 257» that whatever the cause 
of Monroe's nonaction "the result was the very evil he had been instructed to 
prevent.*' But the evil was not the result of an}- thing Monroe did or failed to 
do. It was the result of making England a preferred nation against Fnuice pre- 
viously preferred under the treaty of 1778. in his Life of John Adams* John T. 
Morse, Jr. (p. 274), says: "To cure the feeling which he [Gouvemeur Morris] 
had wounded, Mr. Monroe of quite the opposite way of thinking was sent to 
supersede him. But Monroe was carried away by Uie Jacobiniod excitement 
into behaviour so extravagantly foolish as to seriously compromise the National 
interests." Monroe's behaviour was less sxtravagant than this language — 
quite unmeasured and misleading. 



202 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

from the United States without appointing a suc- 
cessor. **^ 

This French Minister at Philadelphia was Pierre 
Auguste Adet, who, like his predecessors Fauchet and 
Genet, had made much politically of the Republicans. 
Adet ended his ministry about December 1, 1796. 
L. A. Pichon became charge d'affaires, March 19, 1801; 
and it was as late as March 27, 1805, that General 
Louis Marie Turreau appeared as Napoleon's Minister 
to the United States. 

Monroe took leave of the French Government on 
December 30, and left France by the Dublin packet, 
Captain Clay. The packet was brought to by a British 
frigate and searched down to her hold. The British 
were looking for Paine, who was not on board. As he 
had been voted into the Convention again and could 
not leave France without a passport from that body 
he foresaw that his arch-enemy would be informed by 
their spies of the granting of such a pass and would 
send a ship to seize him.* 

Paine in Paris wrote a letter addressed to the editors 
of the Bien-informS on the recall of Monroe.* The 
charge that hurt Monroe was that he had been "the 
cause of the rupture between the two Republics." 
Paine declares: ^'The refutation of this absurd and 
infamous reproach is the chief object of his corre- 
spondence. . . . The observations of Monroe on the 
hidden causes of his recall are touching; they come 
from the heart; they are cliaracteristic of an exceUent 
citizen. . . . He will not suffer that a government, sold 
to the enemies of freedom, should discharge upon him 
its shame, its crime, its ingratitude, and all the odium 
of its unjust dealings. Were Monroe to find himself 
an object of public hatred, the Republican party in the 

' J. Q. Adams, who exculpates Monroe. "He [Monroe] thought that France 
had a just cause of complaint." 

* Fame was lucky that time and also lucky later on. Conmiodore Barney 
offered to carry him on a vessel he had secured, but Paine demurred. Barney's 
vessel sank at sea and all on board had to take a tossing in a small boat on tem- 
pestuous waves. 

» Writings of Paine. M. D. Conway. Vol. UI. pp. 868-370. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 208 

Jnited States, that party which is the sincere ally of 
^Vance, would be annihilated, and this is the aim of 
he English Government. Imagine the triumph of Pitt, 
f Monroe and the other friends of freedom in America, 
hould be unjustly attacked in France." 

Conway, commenting on this letter, says: "Monroe, 
ike Edmund Randolph and Thomas Paine, was sacri- 
iced to the new commercial alliance with Great 
Britain. " 

The great Washington, be it noted, was now out. 
^ohn Adams was President and Thomas Jefferson vice- 
president. Washington city had become the seat of 
[ovemment. But both Federalism and Hamiltonism 
till prevailed. Adams had retained Washington's 
abinet; and Hamilton was able for a long while to 
)ull the strings whereby Federalistic politics and policies 
^ere largely controlled. However, at this time it was 
Tohn Adams himself who took the French bull by the 
Loms. To Congress in extra session. May 15, 1797, he 
leclared that France was treating us "neither as 
lilies, nor as friends, nor as a sovereign state. " It was 
I crisis. We would try further negotiation but we 
vovld put ourselves in a state of defense. Subsequently 
le appointed C. C. Pinckney, John Marshall and 
Slbridge Gerry as envoys to treat with the French 
(ovemment. 

"Monroe," says Bassett, "welcomed his removal. 
ie had felt for more than a year that Hamilton and 
he politicians^ behind the cabinet policies had used 
dm as a pawn to keep France quiet while the Jay 
reaty was going through the formative processes. 
Ie declared that if he were recalled he would publish 
ds instructions and show the whole affair to the public, 
rhe Republicans approved of the project. Bassett 
ontinues: 



^ Monroe himself was accused by the Federalists of playing politics. Writing 
> Washington, July 21, 1796, Pickering hints that '^the ominous letters of Mr. 
fonroe coinposed a part of a solemn farce to answv oertain party purposes in 
be United Statea.'' 



204 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 



**Th^ received him with feasts and justifications. During the 
summer he worked out a statement which was duly submitted 
to the inspection ci Jefferson. It was based on documents con- 
nected and explained by an abundance of that casuistry for which 
the author was noted. It was not completed without brin^^ 
Adams into the controversy. In his recall he was told that it was 
because he had failed to obey Pickering's instructions in justifying 
the treaty and for concurrent reasons. On his return he aakea 
Adams what the latter ground might be. In reply he was told 
that, as th^ concerned an administration which had gone out of 
office, the president did not feel at liberty to reply. He would 
have been glad to have had an avowal from the highest source 
that his recall was partly due to political causes, for it would have 
placed the controversy dearly in the realm of politics. He adroitly 
used Adams' refusal to charge that he was removed for secret 
reasons."* 

Monroe "reached home full of wrath, but the opposi- 
tion party gave him a cordial greeting, and he was 
entertained in Philadelphia at a pubUc diimer where 
JeflFerson, the Vice-President, Dayton, the Speaker, 
Chief Justice McKean, and other conspicuous men were 
present. Monroe's failure, it is clear, was not personal, 
it was a party affair. "* 

August 29, 1797, Washington wrote to Pickering: 
"Colo. Monroe passed through Alexandria last week 
but did not Honor me by a call. If what he has promised 
the pubHc does him no more credit, than what he has 
given to it in his last exhibition, his friends must be 
apprehensive of a recoil. " January 28, 1798, he asked 
McHenry: "What, as far as can be guessed at, is the 
public sentiment relative to Monroe's voluminous 
work? Which I have not yet seen but have sent for it. " 

Worthington C. Ford^ in his Writings of Washington 
(Vol. XIII, pp. 452-490) gives in detail the General's 
remarks on Monroe's "voluminous work." Ford says: 

" In the library at Mount Vernon was a copy of Monroe's View 
of the Conduct of the Executive in the Foreign Affairs of the 
United States, containing marginal notes in the handwriting of 

^ The Federalist System, by J. S. Bassett (American Nation Series), pp. 214, 215. 
' Gilman's Monroe, pp. 68, 64. 

' Writings of Washington (Ford), Monroe's vindication* Vol. XIII, pp. 416, 4S9, 
447, 450. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE .205 

^. 
General Washington. These are here brought together, with 
such extracts from the View as are necessary to afford a propor 
explanation of them. . . . The voliune containing the autograph 
was presented by Judge Bushrod Washington to Judge Story, who 
left it to Harvard College. The President of Harvard, Edwu*d 
Everett, placed it under seal, and it was only recently (Uscovered 
by Mr. Justin Winsor, who courteously allowed me to copy all 
the annotations of Washington." 

Gilman in his Life of Monroe (pp. 221-229) re- 
prints Washington's annotations from the "copy by 
Mr. [Jared] Sparks now owned by the Library of 
Cornell University." This book of five hundred 
pages was intended to be its author's vindication. It 
contained the instructions given him by Secretary 
Randolph, official correspondence and various letters 
bearing upon the subject. Monroe touched upon 
fourteen points, as follows (Oilman pp. 65-66) : 

" (1) The appointment of Gouverneur Morris, a known enemy 
of the French Revolution. 

(i) His continuance in the office until troubles came. 

(3) His removal at the demand of the French Government. 

(4) The subsequent appointment of Monroe, an opponent of 
the administration, especially in its foreign policy. 

(5) The instructions given to Monroe, as to the explanations 
he should give the French in respect to Jay's mission, which con- 
cealed the power given him to form a commercial treaty. 

(6) The strong expressions of attachment to France and the 
principles of the French Revolution given to Monroe. 

(7) The resentment of the administration when these docu- 
ments were made public. 

(8) The approval of Monroe's endeavor to seciu'e a repeal 
of the obnoxious decrees, and the silence which followed their repeal. 

(9) Jay's power to form a commercial treaty with England, 
without corresponding advances to France. 

(10) The withholding from Monroe of the contents of the 
treaty, an evidence of unfair dealing. 

(11) The submission of this treaty to M. Adet, after the 
advice of the Senate, and before its ratification by the President. 

(12) The character of Jay's treaty which departs from the 
modem role of contraband and yields the principle: 'Free ships 
shall make free goods.' 

(13) The irritable bearing of the administration toward 
France, after the ratification, in contrast with its bearing toward 
England, when it was proposed to decline its ratification. 



206 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

(14) Monroe's recall just when he had suooeeded in quieting 
the French government for the time, and was likely to do so 
eflfectually . " 

Regretful, indeed, were Monroe's compunctions 
later in life when he tJiought of the way he had traveled 
past Mount Vernon wimout making a little detour 
of duty and paying his respects to the chief. He would 
have felt better the rest of his days. Tobias Lear,^ in 
his account of the GeneraPs last illness, tells of a minor 
but painful incident of Friday evening, December 18, 
a snowy day when Washington was housed with a 
cold:* "He requested me to read to him the debates 
of the Virginia Assembly on the election of a Senator 
and a Governor — and on hearing Mr. Madison's 
observations respecting Mr. Monroe, he appeared 
much aflFected and spoke with some degree of asperity 
on the subject, which I endeavored to moderate, as I 
always did on such occasions." 

Citing the case of an ancient worthy who "wished 
his enmities to be transient, and his friendships 
immortal,*' John Quincy Adams says: "Thus it was 
that the congenial mind of James Monroe, at the 
zenith of his public honors, and in the retirement of 
his latest days, cast off, like the suppuration of a wound, 
all the feelings of unkindness, and all the severities of 
judgment which might have intruded upon his better 
nature in the ardor of civil dissension. In veneration 
for the character of Washington he harmonized with 
the now unanimous voice of his country; and he has 
left recorded, in his own hand, a warm and unqualified 
testimonial to the pure patriotism, the pre-eminent 
ability an d spotless integrity of John Jay. " 

* Letters and Recolloctions of George Washington, p. 129. 

* Lear advised him to take something for the cold. He answered no; "you 
know I never take anything for a cold. Let it go as it came." Ue retired. Be* 
tweei. two and three o*clock he awoke with an a^e. Ue could hardly speak 
and breathed with difficulty. But he was afraid his wife would take cold if she 
got up. When a woman went in to hght a 6re, Lear was sent for. At Wash- 
ington's request Overseer RawHns bled him. This was at sunrise. Three doctors 
came and bled and dosed him. About five he said to Dr. Craik: "I die hard, but 
I'm not afraid to go." He was composed. He gave many orders. Between 
ten and eleven that night, he died without a struggle or a si^ 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE WT 

In plain non-oratorical English, Monroe was sorry 
that he had thought so hard of tliose two great men 
whom he at times misjudged; just as he was sorry 
that he had figured in the Hamilton-Reynolds scandal. 

It is necessary to touch upon this exceedingly dis- 
agreeable affair since Monroe was involved in it. 
Indeed, Bassett^ asserts: "Shortly after his arrival 
in America Monroe gave a savage blow to Hamilton 
probably in retaUation for the latter's influence on his 
recaU." 

But is this view warranted? Let us state the case, 
so that the reader may not be offered either an apology 
for Monroe or a sweeping condemnation : 

Two scamps, James Reynolds and Jacob Clingman 
were arrested in Philadelphia in 1792 for frauds, on 
the government. The charge was that they had pro- 
cured a false adjustment of claims. Clingman count- 
ered. He said that the Secretary of the Treasury had 
been "engaged in corrupt speculation with Reynolds 
as his tool.** High as Hamilton was, politically and 
socially, husband of General Philip Schuyler's daughter 
Elizabeth, who with her five children lived at the 
Hamilton place "The Grange" on the Hudson, there 
nevertheless had been partisan accusations against 
him with respect to his handling of the public funds. 
He worked hard, often till midnight; and he earned 
a great deal. But the reliable William Maclay, 
Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, in his Journal 
(1789-1791), has repeated references to Hamilton's 
"speculations.** We are, of course, to remember that 
Hamilton's enemies said all sorts of unverifiable things 
about him. We have no monopoly of lies in this, our 
own age; and what the honest Maclay put into his 
Journal may have been but seeming truths. Congress, 
of course, was obliged to take cognizance of Clingman's 
charge. James Monroe, Abraham Venable and F. A. 
Muhlenberg, Speaker of the House, were named as a 
committe e to call on Secretary Hamilton. This they 

^ The Federalist System (American Nation Series), pp. 215, 216. 



208 ,THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE; 

did on the evening of December 14, 1792. Hamilton 
told a strange story. By his own words he had been 
approached by Mrs. Reynolds, who, on the plea that 
she was from Hamilton's State and was in distress, 
thus made her way with him. The illicit affair put 
him at the mercy of Reynolds, a blackmailer, who 
mulcted him of $1200. The astonished committee 
accepted the explanation. Some letters bearing upon 
the matter were also gone over. Hamilton had been 
victimized — so it appeared ; but what had the com- 
mittee of Congress to do with the scrape, unless it 
involved the accused in frauds on the government? 
Next day the Committee wrote out a statement, signed 
it, and left it with Monroe. Apparently the interview 
satisfied the Committee. It was understood that 
Hamilton regarded his frankness as of a confidential 
nature, entitling him to the protection of the Com- 
mittee. And so the scandal slept for nearly six years. 

When Monroe sailed for France he left the docu- 
ments in the Hamilton-Reynolds case *'in the hands 
of a respectable character** in Virginia. Hildreth 
(Vol. V, p. Ill) thinks Jefferson "the respectable 
character." Schouler (Vol. I, p. 363) says: "These 
papers, however, like some others which served for 
party ammunition, seem to have circulated confiden- 
tially among a conclave of Virginia Republicans which 
included Jefferson, Madison, Giles and possibly 
Edmund Randolph or Beckley. (See 7, John C. 
Hamilton's Republic.) Beckley had recently lost his 
re-election as clerk of the House. " 

Now who gave the documents to Callender? In 
the fall of 1797, he published them in his "History 
of the United States for 179G," Numbers V and VI. 
Hamilton blamed Monroe for the publication. Many 
historians since that time liave accepted this assertion 
and censured Monroe. But Monroe denied that he 
brought about the publication. He might, therefore, 
be censured for letting the papers pass from his own 
hands to those of irresponsible politicians; but the 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE £09 

blame should end there^ We cannot assume that he 
deliberately drew the incriminating papers from their 
pigeon-hole and procured their publication in order 
to get even with his maligners. He was a man of his 
word; and so we take his word for it when he denied 
all agency in the publication. One might, after reading 
the animadversions of some of the historians, almost 
believe that Monroe was the head-villain in the whole 
affair, speculator, peculator and what-not. By a 
strange process of onus-placing and odium-casting they 
shift Hamilton's burdens away from him and fasten 
them on the man sent by Congress to see what was 
wrong. By raising a great "how-dy " on a minor point, 
they divert the public from the real issue. In any 
event, this was a discreditable case all around, and 
quite modern in its disgustingness.* 

^ A number of them Federalistic. Randall's Jefferson goes into the case. 
Gilman*s Monroe avoids it. Hildreth, II, 104, speaks of CalleDder*s "undigested 
md garrulous collection of libels." A Study of Alexander Hamilton, by Fon- 
taine T. Fox, 1911, is extremely anti-Hamiltonian. 

* An extraordinary incident in Monroe's life is thus set forth in Allan McLane 
Ehmilton's "Intimate Life of Alexander Hamilton,*' pp. 116. 117: "Mrs. [Elizabeth 
Schuyler] Hamilton could never forgive the behavior of Monroe when he, with 
Muhlenberg and Venable, accused Hamilton of financial irregularities at the time 
of the Reynolds incident. Many years afterwards when they were both aged 
pec^le, Monroe visited her and an interview occurred which was witnessed by 
h nqphew, who was then a lad of fifteen. *I had,' he says, 'been sent to call upon 
my aunt Hamilton one afternoon. I found her in her garden and was there with 
ber talking, when her maid servant came from the house with a card. It was 
the card oi James Monroe. She read the name and stood holding the card, much 
perturbed. Her voice sank and she spoke very low, as she always did when she 
was angry. 'What has that man come to see me for?* escaped from her. 'Why, 
Amit,' said I, 'don't you know, it's Mr. Monroe and he's been President, and 
be is visiting here now in the neighborhood, and has been very much made of, 
md invited everywhere, and so — I suppose he has come to call and pay his 
nvpects to ^ou.' After a moment's hesitation, 'I will see him,' she said. 

The maid went back to the house, my Aunt followed, walldng rapidly, I after 
ber. As she entered the parlor, Monroe rose. She stood in the middle of the 
room facing him. She did not ask him to sit down. He bowed, and addressing 
ber formally, made her rather a set speech — that it was many years since thev 
bad met, that the lapse of time brought its softening influences, that they botn 
ivere nearing the grave, when the past differences could be forgiven and forgotten 
— in short, from his point of view, a very nice, conciliatory, well-turned little 
qieech. She answered still standing and looking at him, 'Mr. Monroe, if you 
bave come to tell me that you repent, that you are sorry, very sorry, for the mis- 
tepresentations and the slanders and the stories you circulated against my dear 
buaband, if you have come to say this, I understand it But, otherwise, no lapse 
of time, no nearness of the flrave, makes any difference.' She stopped speaking, 
MoDfoe turned, took up his hat and left the room." It was Nemesis. Burr kiilra 
Bamilton in 1804; Mrs. Hamilton died in 1854; she was fifty years a widow. 



210 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

As for Callender there should be a few words more 
about him; but we ought first to say that Monroe's 
recall from Prance, m so far from injuring him 
poUtically helped him with the electorate in Republican 
Virginia. He was chosen Governor in 1799 and was 
twice re-elected, holding that oflBce till 1802. The 
esteem in which he was held is well shown in a letter 
from St. George Tucker, Williamsburg, December 22, 
1799, congratulating him on his triumph over slander 
and malignity in being made governor. 

Henry Adams,* in his notable history of the United 
States, says: "Some weakness in Monroe's character 
caused him more than once to mix in scandals which 
he might better have left imtouched." The special 
reference is to Callender's relations with Jefferson. 
And now who was Callender? 

James Thompson Callender, a Scotch radical, author 
of a tabooed book, "The Political History of Great 
Britain,*' who had fled to Philadelphia in 1792, was 
one of the anti-Adams writers to suffer under the 
Sedition Act. Judge Chase convicted him of libeling 
the President. Jefferson pardoned him. When he got 
out of jail, he went to Richmond and started a paper 
there. The Recordery supporting Jefferson's ideas. 
But because Jefferson would not countenance so unfit 
a man as postmaster of Richmond, Callender turned 
upon the Democratic leader and struck at him as 
venomously as he had struck at Adams. Jefferson* 
wrote a long explanatory letter to Governor Monroe, 
July 16, 1802, and another the next day, in which 
he defended himself against Callender's attacks. He 
had bought books and pamphlets of Callender in order 
to help the persecuted writer to his feet; but the 
Federalists made out that Callender was in Jefferson's 



^ Vol. I, p. 885. This work in nine volumes, by the author of "The Educatioo 
of Henry Adams, " oovers the administrations of Jefferson and Madison. Adams, 
with the intellectual brilliancy of his race, also had a bit of its bias. It is a fasci- 
nating piece of history, but allowance must be made. He dwells upon the seamy 
side of his characters, stinting his praise. 

* Life of Jefferson, by H. S. Randall, Vol. UI, pp. 16-21. 



^THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 211 

pay. It was a petty incident of a quarrelsome time, 
a molehill made into a party moimtain. Callender, 
somewhat beliquored, was drowned in the James, 
whither he had gone to bathe, July 17, 1803. 

This sunmiary of large events and petty personal 
incidents brings us well into the period of the genesis 
of the Jeffersonian party, of which Monroe was one 
of the founders and life-long adherents. For a popular 
party there was bound to be. We have indicated why 
Washington, of course, knew that the "outs'* would 
criticize the "ins"; what he, a broad and moderate 
man. did not believe in was senseless partisanship. 
Referring to JeflFerson and Hamilton he wrote: "Why 
should either of you be so tenacious of your opinions 
as to make no allowance for those of the other?" In 
his Farewell Address, he warned Americans of the 
terrible consequences of blinding sectional partisanship ; 
and, "in the most solemn manner, against the baneful 
effects of the Spirit of Party generally. " It had its 
root, he declared in the strongest passions of the mind. 
Restrain it. Parties in free countries are useful checks 
upon. the administration of the government and serve 
to keep alive a spirit of liberty; but what if the fire 
get away? Keep it under control. 

These were wise words; and it would have been well 
if they had been heeded not only by Jefferson, Madison 
and Monroe but by Hamilton and John Adams. 
Nay, we should heed them now. That we should " steer 
clear of permanent alliances" is not the only solemn 
injunction in the Farewell Address. 

John Morley in his book on Burke makes a strange 
mistake. He has been telling of what Burke saw and 
heard in Paris in 1773 — of his surprise that Madame 
du Barry, in so far from seeming gross, should have 
powderless hair, rougeless, simple toilet and imassuming 
ways; of his vision of the young dauphinness, "Glitter- 
ing like the morning star," and of "the busy ferment 
of intellect in which his French friends most exulted. " 
"It was from the ideas of the Parisian Freethinkers, 



£12 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

whom Burke so detested/' adds Morley, ''that JeflFer- 
son, Franklin and Henry drew those theories of human 
society which were soon to find Ufe in American inde- 
pendence/* 

This is very wide of the mark. Liberty and a better 
hiunanity were watchwords in America long before 
Rousseau's day. Moreover, they constituted the 
creed of such practical and pushing leaders as David 
Lloyd in Pennsylvania and Nathaniel Bacon in Virginia. 
Republicans now are far less liable to attack than were 
Republicans then. Few now advocate monarchy; 
many at that time thought as Himie did. JeflPerson 
resented this passage in Hume: "The Commons 
estabUshed a principle, which is noble in itself and 
seems specious, but is belied by all history and experi- 
ence, that the people are the origin of all just powers. " 
Such was JeflFerson's resentment that he was on the 
point of throwing Hume's History out of the University 
of Virginia. He rejoiced that Brodie had "pulverized" 
Hume. He hated Hume, hated the king idea. Patrick 
Henry, Mason, Monroe, JeflFerson and all ^men of their 
school abhorred the enormous millennial black-list 
of monarchial crime, cruelty and despotism. We feel 
less abhorrence because our own age is less tyrannized 
over (by royalty at least) ; but with JeflFerson and with 
Monroe the cue was to further the cause of democracy 
whenever they could. 

JeflFerson called his followers "Republicans**; but 
the Pro-French partisans used "Democratic" as de- 
scriptive of their societies, and so the awkward phrase 
"Democratic-Republican" filled the mouths of friends 
and foes alike. The men of the new party, mortified 
as they were at the excesses, the appalling inhumanities 
of the French, nevertheless sympathized with La 
Fayette's constitutionalism, and regarded Monroe's 
course as justifiable. The men of the Federalist party, 
twelve years in power, looked with disfavor upon 
Monroe, and with disgust upon the increasing member- 
ship of the " Self -created societies " of the Democratic 



jTHE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 213 

Associations. Not that the whole electorate was Anti- 
British and Anti-French, and nothing more. The 
Federalists gave a free and loose reading to the letter 
of the constitution; the Democrats professed to con- 
strue it strictly. In many other matters were these 
parties at logger-heads; or soon to be so; but, roughly 
speaking, one was the party of the aristocrats and the 
other the party of the people. 

The Federalists spoke of themselves as "friends 
of order" — a cant phrase in which they as jSrmly 
believed as they believed themselves destined to take 
a high place on earth, and still higher in heaven. For 
heaven, they were sure, was on their side. Voltaire 
was an atheist; Voltaire was French; all Democrats 
were attracted to the French; therefore all Democrats 
are atheists — ergo, they belong in the brimstone 
pit, and heaven speed them thither. As for that, the 
old original serpent that seduced Eve was an arch- 
Jacobin. And, as for "the two Toms" — Tom Paine 
and Tom Jefferson — they were no better than the 
wicked. Paine had fallen under the odium theologicum^ 
and that was the thing that tainted him with multitudes 
of the orthodox. 

On the other hand, "the poor ragged Democrats 
who meet in bams" did not admit that all the religion 
was on the Federal side,^ How about the Nazarene? 
Was he not with the poor and downtrodden? The 
Democrats said: "Aristocracies sink the people." 
"Courts and Camps are hotbeds of immorality and 
infidelity." "They are well-born, you are base-born." 
How selfish they were — those "well-fed, well-dressed, 
chariot-rolling, caucus-keeping, levee-revelling Fed- 
eralists. " In the printed speeches of the time we come 
upon such phrases as "Aristocratic Federalism;" — 
"the reign of terror is no more; the Alien and Sedition 
Acts have expired." 

These measures, indeed, brought about the ruin of 
the Feder alist party. Adams had four years of trouble. 

^ CootineDtal Republicanism by Abraham Bishop* 1800. 



214 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Paine said that his ''head was as full of kings, queens 
and knaves as a pack of cards;'' but, aside from his 
vanity and lack of depth and balance, he was an able 
man. France menaced him throughout his adminis- 
tration. Headstrong as he was, he managed French 
matters well. It was the time of the "X Y Z" episode, 
when a bribe of £50,000 was demanded from the 
American envoys "for the pockets of the Directory." 
The Republicans sang smaU in Congress after that; a 
naval war came on; an army was organized; but, by 
and by, Oliver Ellsworth, William Vans Murray and 
William Richardson Davie, Commissioners sent by 
Adams, negotiated a treaty with France; and there 
was peace. That was in 1800. The same year the 
Federalist party split. Hamilton, who had opposed 
the Alien and the Sedition laws, and who wanted to 
be the army's head, attacked Adams in an anonymous 
pamphlet.^ But Burr got hold of it, and made the 
most of it for the Republicans. Adams threw the 
Hamiltonian politicians out of his cabinet. These 
internal dissensions helped to break up a party already 
impopular. Adams felt his lack of trustworthy friends. 
He was isolated. He said, "I am as much a solitudi- 
narian as Frederick the Conqueror." He began a 
letter to his good wife Abigail: "The Solitudinarian 
of Market Street to his dearest friend." "The Federal- 
ists," says Hart,* had governed well; they had built 
up the credit of the country ; they had taken a dignified 
and eflFective stand against the aggressions of both 
England and France. Yet their theory was of a gov- 
ernment by leaders. JeflFerson, on the other hand, 
represented the rising spirit of Democracy. It was not 
his protest against the over-government of the Fed- 
eralists that made him popular, it was his assertion 
that the people at large were the best depositories of 

^ A chill came over Jefferson when he heard Hamilton praise Julius Caesar as 
the greatest man that ever lived. Already he was a political dictator, even io 
Adams' own State. "Ames, Sedgwick, Cabot, Pickermg and the whole E«es 
Junto were thorough Hamiltonians." — Randall's Jefferson, Vol. II, p. 831. 

* Fonnation of the Union, 1750-1829, by Albert Bushnell Hart, 18M. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 215 

power. JeflFerson had taken hold of the *great wheel 
going up the hill/ He had behind him the mighty 
force of the popular will/' 



CHAPTER XI 

Monroe and the Louisiana Pubchabb 

By this time Monroe was well up in the ways of both 
polities and diplomacy; yet he was destined to travel 
even mirier mazes than those he had hitherto followed. 

There was a new human development. Nineteenth 
century politics took on subtler attributes. Burr, in 
New York, organized a system. Hamilton, at this time 
a private citizen, was as active politically as ever. 
There were strange happenings. For instance, one 
cannot but regard the Jefferson-Burr electoral episode 
as extraordinary. It was a crisis that set the country 
by the ears. Incidentally it put Monroe to a fresh test 

The intent of the Republican voter in the autumn of 
1800 was to elect Jefferson, President, and Burr, Vice- 
President; but, under the clumsy electoral system then 
in use, there was a dangerous hitch. Nowadays an 
elector has no free choice; then he had. It was his duty 
to name two persons; but he was not to say which was 
to be President and which Vice-President. When it 
came to the count, the man ahead was to be President; 
the next man, Vice-President.^ 

The count in this case gave Jefferson and Burr 
seventy-three votes each; to sixty-five for Adams, sixty- 
four for Pinckney and one for Jay. It was a Republican 
tie; and, accordingly, the election was thrown into the 
Federalist House of Representatives — Sixth Congress, 
second session, which met November 17, 1800, but 
which did not begin to ballot for President until the 
second week of the following February. John Adams 
was to go out on March 4. The feeling was tense, the 

^ This experience was enough for everybody. The twelfth amendment, adopted 
in 1804, so changed the system that each elector thereafter voted aeparaiely for 
^e two offices. A tie was thus prevented. 

210 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 817 

tion dramatic. What a temptation was here for 
st men to become cimning casuists overnight and 
3 themselves and their acquaintances into a state 
iwnright sophistication! Stories went aroimd that 
•'ederalist majority in the House meant to continue 
leadlock till after March 4, so that there would be 
iterregnimi. In that event, it was proposed to 

a biU devolving the government on the Chief 
ce, the Secretary of State, or the President pro tern. 
e Senate. This could only be done by "a stretch 
e Constitution." So, at least, Jefferson wrote to 
ison. This was putting the matter mildly, con- 
bg that the pending battle was what Muzzey calls 

central fact of his career.*' He believed that 
! was " a deliberate plot to subvert the Constitution 
lullify the Declaration of Independence. For him 
ictory of 1800 was the vindication of the principles 
76. He was not overscrupulous in his methods'*; 
icouraged Freneau, Bache, Duane and Callender, 
)se slanderous articles on the Federalist leaders 
their patience to the utmost . • . but for all these 
} of disposition or judgment, there was nothing 
L or base in Thomas Jefferson. ** ^ Burr, for his 

"remained at Albany shrouded in mystery.*** 
5 William P. Van Ness, ** the confidant, newspaper 
pion and instrument of Burr,** was one of his 
pulling agents, and Jonathan Dayton, Federalist 
X)r from New Jersey, was another. Van Ness it was 
subsequently "egged on the fatal duel which 
nated forever the fierce rivalries of Burr and 
ilton. ** Meantime, as we shall see, Hamilton was 
sy as Burr. Indeed, every one was on the qui vive. 
emeur Morris and Wolcott found in the situation 
opportunities for intrigue. Cabot and Otis, seeing 
FederaUst eyes, preferred Burr. Charles Carroll of 
dton feared "a Jacobinical President/* He spoke 



nas Jefferson by David Muzzey, 1018, pp. 811-218. 

iall'a Jefferson, Vol. II, p. 604; Hammond'! PolHicd Hiitoiy of New 

d1. I, p. 149. 



£18 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

of "the insidious policy of Virginia" and "hoped the 
[Maryland] Legislature would choose jyro hoc vice the 
electors of President and Vice President. " One has but 
to read the letters of the period to discover for himself 
that the high-toned gentlemen of the Federalist school 
trusted the people very little, and Senates and Courts 
a great deal. Luckily for Jefferson, his ablest opponent 
thought him the lesser of two evils. Hamilton, who 
had made Jefferson Vice-President, now wished to see 
him President in preference to Burr. How could 
Hamilton adumbrate that dark duel at Weehawken? — 
how could he know that he was digging his own grave. 
He felt that Burr would attempt " to reform the govern- 
ment k la Bonaparte." Again he said of Burr: "He is 
as unprincipled and dangerous a man as any coiintiy 
can boast — as true a Cataline as ever met in midnight 
conclave. " ^ Thus, though the Republicans were 
divided, the Federalists were likewise ripe for factional 
manipulation. This is what happened: 

Both Houses met in the Senate chamber, February 
11, and Vice-President Jefferson opened and handed to 
two tellers the certificates of the electors of sixteen 
States. Then the Representatives returned to their 
own chamber and began to ballot. Seven successive 
ballots were taken, each like the other — eight states 
for Jefferson; six for Burr, and two — Maryland and 
Vermont — divided. Maryland stood four to four; 
Vermont one to one. Then there was a recess. The 
"hero" of the play was constantly in evidence; the 
"villains" were still in the cellar with the trap-door 
down. The "hero" was Joseph Nicholson of Mary- 
land — a sick man, who, with a violent snow-storm 
raging, was brought to the Capitol in order that he 
might keep his State out of the Burr colimm. It was he 
alone who kept Jefferson in the lead. He remained 
abed in one of the committee-rooms, his wife attending 
him; and the tellers took the ballot-box to him so that 
he could vote with a minimima of exertion. As for the 

^ Hamilton's Works, Vol. VI, pp. 45S-614. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE £19 



€€ 



villains/' Jefferson wrote in his Ana, February 12: 
Edward Livingston tells me that Bayard applied 
today or last night to General Samuel Smith, and repre- 
sented to him tie expediency of his coming over to the 
States who vote for Burr; that there was nothing in 
the way of appointment which he might not command, 
and particularly mentioned the Secretaryship of the 
Navy.*** He wrote to Monroe, February 15: 

''If they (the Federalists) could have been permitted to pass a 
law for putting the Government into the hands of an officer, they 
would have certainly prevented an election. But we thought it 
best to declare openly and ^firmly, one and all, that the day such 
an act passed, the Middle States would arm, and that no such 
usurpation, even for a single day, should be submitted to. This 
first shook them. . . .* I have declared to them unequivocally, 
that I would not receive the government on capitulation, that I 
would not go into it with my hands tied. " 

*'Monroe,*' says Henry Adams,' "was certainly 
privy to these warlike preparations; for in the year 
1814, Randolph attacked in debate the conscription 
project recommended by Monroe, then Secretary of 
War, and said: *Ask him what he would have done, 
whilst Governor of Virginia and preparing to resist 
federal usurpation, had such an attempt been made by 
Mr. [John] Adams and his ministers, especially in 1800! 
He can give the answer/" "The two great States of 
Pennsylvania and Virginia, with their Republican 
governors, McKean and Monroe,*' says Muzzey,* 



> This is all the more curious when we consider that Jefferson himself by and 
by made General Samuel Smith Secretary of the Navy, and that he served until 
his brother Robert Smith was appointed to that place. The Smiths seem to have 
had more than a common hold on the administrations of Jefferson and Madison. 

' In Vol. XLII of the Massachusetts Historical Society Publications are Monroe*s 
letters to John Tyler. Sr., with other Tyler letters. Samuel Tyler, a nephew of 
Jtidffe John, was one of Governor Monroe*s council. Monroe sent him to New 
Yo« to watch the progress of the difficulty regarding the election of Jefferson. 
Samuel writes, February 9, 1801, on the subject. John Tyler wrote to Monroe, 
December 27, 1799, from Greenway, congratulating him :0n "the triumph of 
Democracy over Tyranny all over the world. Vive la RepuUique,** 

* John Randolph, by Henry Adams, pp. 27,28. 

* Life of Jefferson, p. 208, 



220 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 



'* were ready to appeal to arms rather than see Jefferson 
cheated out of the presidency. "^ 

But Hamilton was soon heard from. His detractors 
dwell upon his military ambition. Was he not a 
peaceful manipulator now? He worked underhandedly 
through Bayard of Delaware, leader of the House. 
James Asheton Bayard, **a handsome, florid, fashion- 
ably-attired man of thirty-five''; "an aristocrat with 
a lofty scorn of all things Republican,'** who had a 
great liking for cards, statecraft and diplomatic deals,' 
was advised by Hamilton that it would be well to give 
Burr the go-by. So Bayard called on Representative 
John Nicholas, of Virginia, and told him what the 
Federalists would do if Jefferson or his party should 
choose to hearken. But Nicholas declined to serve as 
a go-between. Then Bayard saw the same complaisant 
General Samuel Smith whom Burr's agents are said to 
have approached. Would Smith see Jefferson? Would 
he? Smith saw Jefferson; but, of course, dared not 
hint at what he was after. Jefferson talked freely as 
to what he would do and what not do. Theirs was not 
an "agreement among gentlemen," but simply a casual 
conversation. Yet Jefferson must have known that 
Smith was sounding him. He knew that the Fed- 
eralists were playing into his hands in order to procure 
protection for certain of their office-holders and certain 
of their policies. As Muzzey says: "Jefferson, without 
making any 'capitulation to the Federalists,' seems to 
have let it be understood among them that he would 

^ McKean was a robust character. Randall, in his Jefferson, contrasts hun with 
Monroe. "Governor Monroe was of milder frame, but was as resolute a man as 
there was on earth when his judgment bade him act. ... It would be vmin to 
deny that both parties had the arbitration of arms distinctly in contemplation." 
Cobbett in Porcupine* s Oazette declares that menaces were thrown out at a KepuUi' 
can festival at retersburg, Va., when Monroe himself made one of the party. 
Jefferson, writing to MclLean, said that "Virginia was bristling up, he believed. 
He should know the particulars from Governor Monroe." 

* Beveridge's Marshall, Vol. HI, pp. 78, 79. 

* Grandfather of Senator Thomas F. Bayard and father of Senator James A. 
Bayard. William Plumer (Plumer Mss., Library of Congress) wrote of J. A. 
Bayard, Sr., that he was "a lawyer of high repute*'; "a man of integrity and 
honor**; "very attentive to dress and person." "who drinks more«than a bottle of 
wine each day" and "Uvea loo fast to live long." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE ££1 

not disturb the main institutions of the government if 
elected (bank, tariff , army and navy)."* 

But on the surface, the accommodation remained a 
mystery. What happened was: On the thirty-sixth 
ballot, Maryland was still divided. Bayard voted blank. 
Lewis Morris, FederaHst, having absented himself, 
Matthew Lyon, an ardent Republican, cast the vote 
of Vermont for Jefferson. Thus the ninth State was in 
line, and Jefferson was President. 

Jefferson, be it said, felt his responsibilities. The 
country was growing; it already had in it more than 
5,000,000 people; its centre of population was within 
a morning's ride of the White House. It was a new 
century, with the new government in new hands; but 
it was not likely that there would be any violent new 
departiu^s. So much depends on the point of view. 
When the "outs" are in, they look about them, cease 
to advocate extreme measures, weigh their words and 
measure their acts, realize the magnitude of difficulties 
hitherto imduly considered and proceed to adapt them- 
selves to the practical situation.* Hamilton had fore- 
told that Jefferson would pursue "a temporizing, rather 
than a violent system"; and that is precisely what he 
did. In fact, he kept on doing some of the very things 
he had objected to under Washington and Adams. 
In this he was wise. He was surprisingly wise in his 
leniency toward office-holding Federalists. Of three 
hundred and eighty-five men whom Jefferson might 

^ Life of Jefferson, p. 612. For letters and documenta on this matter, see Ran- 
dall's Jefferson, Vol. II, pp. 571-628. The depositions of Bayard and Smith in 



dalJs Jenerson, vol. ii, pp. ovi-oxs. ine aeposiuons oi oayard ana bnutn m 
1806 also appear in Randall. 
' The Jeffersonian System (Vol. 12, American Nation Series), by Edward Chan- 




Fresident. Fourteen of these have something to do with appointments. For 
iwf^nro, among the applicants to be indorsed by Monroe was Mr. Arthur Lee, of 
Norfolk. On September 25, 1801, Monroe wrote to Jefferson that Lee was a young 
man of merit, but three days later it occurred to him that he had been too com- 
placent, and that Mr. Lee*s object in going to Washington was to seek an office. 
Thereupon, he sat down and wrote to Jefferson that he did not know what Mr. 
Lee*s object might be but that he was not well acquainted with that gentleman. 
.... If his object is the attainment of an office, the President should have much 
better information than his present correspondent could give. That letter settled 
the case of Mr. Arthur Lee of Norfolk.** Monroe was conscien t ious, evidently 



222 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONRQB 

have removed, one hundred and eighty-three still 
held their jobs at the' end of his first term. 

Monroe, long with the ''outs»" was now so fortmiate 
as to be with tiie ''ins'' all the rest of his life. He was 
past forty-one when, by this epochal turn, democracy 
came into its own. Jefferson was fifty-eight — ^'^ a loose- 
jointed man," in manner "shy and stiff," accustomed 
to sit ''comerwise on his chair, with one shoulder 
elevated above the other."* He took the oath of 
office March 4, 1801. In the act of so doing, as it 
happened, he stood between two of his antipathies — 
Burr, Vice-President, who was to put an end to himself 
politically when he slew Hamilton; and Marshall, 
lately appointed Chief Justice, who by his Supreme 
Court decisions would make the coimtry less and less 
a congeries of States and more and more a centralized 
nation. Like Hamilton, he was a great consolidator. 
Indeed, when years after,* Jefferson wrote to Spencer 
Roane, whom he wished to make Chief Justice: "The 
revolution of 1800 was as real a revolution in the 
principles of our government as that of 1776 was in 
the form, " he could hardly have had Marshall in mind. 
John Adams declared that this country was " an empire 
of laws not men"; and many tried to make it so. 
Democratic as Marshall was personally — careless 
and lounging, like Jefferson — his mind was conservative. 
He was essentially un-Jeffersonian in mental method. 
He never mixed his metaphors. He never dreamt 
dreams. The principles of Federalism survived through 
him. Federalism had received a body blow; its soul 
lived because Marshall read it into constitutional law. 
Once a dear friend of Monroe, much controversy and 
much politics made Marshall draw away from him. 
Mason, Henry and Monroe had called for checks and 
balances to protect the people; Marshall devised 
checks and balances of another sort. John Adams 
thought Marshall a sounder Virginian than any of 

* The Jefferaonian System. 

* September 6, 1819. Works of Thomas Jefferson. Vol. VII, p. 133. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 223 

them and abler than all of them put together. It was 
unfair on the part of Adams to embarrass the incoming 
administration with partisan enactments embodying 
ultra-Federalistic ideas on the judiciary. JeflFerson 
wrote to John Dickinson, December 19, 1801: "The 
Federalists have retired into the judiciary as a strong- 
hold . . . and from that battery all the works of 
republicanism are to be beaten down and erased." 
But the Federalists were desperate. Were they per- 
versely or patriotically desperate? Adams was both 
perverse and patriotic. He thought he was doing 
America a great service in putting up fortijScations 
manned with Judges to save the country from the 
"excessive" democracy of the JeflFersons, Madisons, 
Monroes and John Randolphs. James Bradley Thayer^ 
insists that "Jeflferson had ludicrous misconceptions 
as to Marshall's real character." He spoke of the 
Judge's mind as "being of that gloomy malignity which 
will never let him forego the opportimity of satiating 
it upon a victim." 

A close reasoner was Marshall. Intellectually, he 
hewed to the line. As an interpreter of the Constitution, 
his opinions were of weight and consequence, and 
grew more and more valuable when put together in a 
coherent and comprehensive doctrine. It was a strong 
union that he stood for and argued in behalf of. What 
his opponents objected to was that, in logical pursuit 
of his subject, he went beyond the letter of the Consti- 
tution. His interpretation was of its intent and spirit. 
Being a master-logician, as well as a simple and sincere 
patriot, imafraid of JeflFerson or anybody else, he 
impressed himself upon the attentive public as few 
other Americans have ever done. 

Let us glance at some of the causes and consequences. 
Perhaps we may thus start right in seeking to imder- 
stand the quarrel. Reaction against democracy, begun 
abroad, had also made some progress here. Ultra- 
republican editors, driven hither, wrote with such 

* Thayer's Marshall, p. 52. 



£24 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

venom as to bring down on their heads alien and 
sedition laws similar to laws lately passed in England. 
These harsh and un-American, as well as un-republican 
laws drove Jefferson and Madison back from their 
advanced position of accepted nationalism. They took 
a stand on modified States' rights. They did it reluct- 
antly, not meaning to do other than bring the power 
of the State legislatures to bear in defense of 
democracy. Why did they not take their case to the 
Courts? Because the Courts were Federalist. What 
other defense had they? English reactionaries had 
suspended habeas corpus; would the Federalists in 
America do so too? In their appeal to States' rights,' 
they meant to defend the rights of man; not to establish 
a nullification doctrine. But the large result, imfore- 
seen, was to afford the mid-century successor of the 
Republican party a constitutional doctrine upon which 
to defend the secession of the slave States. Madison 
lived to see this, and the old man repudiated it as best 
he could. Monroe was spared the experience. Such, in 
outline, was the sequence of events in the great quarrel. 
What John Adams did was to impose his will on the 
nation after he had been voted out. That Marshall 
condoned it excuses some of Jefferson^s feeling against 
that very great man. Marshall, too, imposed his will — 
not upon one administration merely, but upon all suc- 
ceeding administrations. When he held questionable 
acts of Congress and the Executive alike subject to 
review and reversal, he put a bridle upon each. In the 
case of M arbury vs. Madison,* the Supreme Court 

^ "Neglected or rejected by the other States, they (the Virginia and Kentucky 
Resolutions) were i>assed again by their legislatures in 1799, and were for a looX 
time the documentary basis of the Democratic party. The leading idea ezpresiefl 
in both was that the Constitution was a * compact* between the States, and that 
the powers (the States) which had made the compact had reserved the power to 
restrain the creature of the compact, the Federal Government, whenever it llnde^ 
took to assume power not granted to it. Madison's idea aeemf to have been 
that restraint was to be enforced by a second convention of the States.*' — Tbe 
United States by Alexander Johnson, pp. 131, 132. 

* Two davs before his term expired Adams appointed William Marbury and 
forty-one others Justices of the Peace in the District of Columbia. The Senate 
confirmed all. Jefferson thought that there were too many of these Justices aod 
directed Madison to withhold seventeen commissions. Marbuiy*! hi^ipened to 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 225 

decided that an act of Congress was invalid. In the 
Burr case, Marshall sent a subpoena for Jefferson to 
appear before him. In other cases, one sees the rise 
of a new Federalism, or nationalism, which strengthened 
the central power, but gave cloak and cover to monop- 
olies as well as to cankering officialism.^ 

Of course much was said in Congress against 
Marshall's decisions and the consolidating tendencies 
of the Federalist Judiciary. Breckenridge's speech was 
one of the notable utterances on the protesting side. 
In his "Life of Marshall" (Vol. HI, p. 59) Beveridge 
says: 

''James Monroe, then in Richmond, hastened to inform 
Breekenrid^ that 'your argument is highly approved here/ But, 
anxiously mquired that foggy Republican, do you mean to 
admit that the legislature (Congress) has not a right to repeal 
the law organizing the Supreme Court for the express purpose of 
dismissing the Judges when they cease to possess the public 
confidence?' If so, 'the people have no check whatever on 
them . . . but impeachment.' Monroe hoped that 'the period 
is not distant' when any opposition to 'the sovereignty of the 
people' by the Courts, such as the application of the principles 
of the English common law to our Constitution, woiUd be 'consid- 
efed good cause for impeachment.'* Thus early was expressed 
the R^ublican plan to impeach and remove Marshall and the 
entire Federal membership of the Supreme Court so soon to be 
attempted. " 

Thus we find ourselves apparently, though not 

be one of the seventeen. Marbury and three others applied to the Supreme Court 
for a writ of mandamus, compelling Madison to issue the commissions. Mean- 
time a ipeat debate took place in Congress on a motion of Senator John Brecken- 
ridge* <» Kentucky, to repeal the Fed^idist National Judiciary Act of 1801. For 
ft good rq)ort of Uiis significant debate see Beverid^*s Marshall, Vol. JH, pp. 
l-ttS» unda the chapter heads: "Democracy, Judiciary," **The Assault on the 
Jodidary/* "Marbury versus Madison" and "Impeadiment." The repeal bill 
paTd at midnight, March S, 1802, by a vote of fifty-nine Republicans to thirty- 
tiPO Fedenlists. April 23 a bill suspending the June session of the Supreme Court 
was pmied. The Republicans seemed to have the upper hand. Jud^ John Pick- 
ering of the New Hampshire District was impeached. High crimes and misde- 
mmaon were charged against Judge Samuel Chase. But Marshall and his 
aModates* Chase, Paterson, Cushing, Moore, and Bushrod Washington countered 
In a decision declaring the act of Congress in the Marbury matter invalid. 

* Amoiu; ludi cases may be dted Fletcher m. Peck; Dartmouth College m. 
Woodwara and the State ol New Jersey m. Wilson. 

* Monroe to Breckenridge, January 15, 1802. Breckenridge Mss., Lib. CongNM 
aa qinoted by Beveridge. 



226 THE UFE OF JAMES MONROE 

actually, at the end of a friendship that had lasted 
since Marshall and Monroe had gone to school together 
to Parson Campbell of Campbellton back in the days 
when the birds sang of other things than politics.^ 

Party feeling spent itself during the debate over 
the Judiciary Act. This was in the winter of 1802, 
Madison was Secretary of State and Gallatin Secretary 
of the Treasury. Not infrequently now the Republicans 
found themselves on old Federalist ground. But the 
most complete reversal was soon to come. Jefferson, 
indeed, was about to step deliberately out of the con- 
stitutional boimds, while Madison and Monroe were 
to follow him with as little apparent compunction as 
though they actually had turned Federalists. If the 
gods aloft mocked them, those satirical ones must also 
have laughed at the Federalists for revamping Repub- 
lican arguments they had once despised. The grand 
matter that made them all swing about and go contrari- 
wise in spite of themselves was the Louisiana purchase, 
involving empire on the Gulf of Mexico and in that 
vast region stretching westward from the Appalachies. 
States' rights? — Oh, yes; but how as to the nation's 
future? Should the republic be cooped up between the 
Atlantic and the Alleghenies, making it a mere seaboard 
region — a long corridor? Should it be delimited on 
the west by the Mississippi River, or should it expand 
with an expansiveness as wide as the continent itself? 
With Spain to the south, France to the west and 
England to the north, we should be as in a vise; with 
no chance to grow, and constantly menaced by alien 
powers. Monroe and Patrick Henry had been dis- 
turbed by some such thought back in the days of Don 
Diego de Gardoqui; here now, twenty-one years later, 
Jefferson called upon Monroe, in a newly arisen emer- 
gency rendered all the more acute by the extreme 

^ Years after Monroe sent eodosures to Marshall bearing upon the imminent w»^ 
with Great Britain. Marshall replied enigmatically and without a sign of friend^ 
liness. Monroe apparently wished to sound Marshall on the war, and maybe als^ 
to renew the cordiaJ relations of their youth. Beveridge prints Marshall's matter^ 
of -fact letter in Vol. IV, p. 41. In their latter days they were friends again. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE ««7 

restlessness of the multitudes of people who had gone 
west. We have here in fact a tremendous new drama 
interesting alike to the trans-Allegheny settlers, the 
people along the Gulf, the King's ministers in London, 
the Court Circle of Don Carlos at Madrid and to that 
manipulator of empires, the First Citizen of France. 
In the dramatis personae are kings, queens, princes, 
ministers and statesmen of high and low degree, 
plotters and counterplotters, a host of participants 
of many races and many tongues. The stake was a 
region out of which we have formed twelve of our 
fairest States under the free sky of the West. 

John Randolph of Roanoke was not the only truth- 
teller with respect to the defensive preparations in 
Virginia during the threatening period of '98 and '99. 
Howison^ says that the cloud of mystery thrown around 
the matter "is not dispelled by contemporary records." 
January 23, 1798, the Legislature passed an act pro- 
viding for two new arsenals and an armory at Richmond 
big enough to hold ten thousand stand of muskets. 
Equipment was made ready for a considerable cavalry 
force. Cannon were mounted. The idea was that if 
things should continue to go from bad to worse Virginia 
ought to be prepared. But there was a vigorous party 
that defended the "Laws" as against the "Resolu- 
tions. " Marshall's brother-in-law, George Keith Taylor 
of King George, General Henry Lee, and Patrick 
Henry belonged to it. Henry, then about to die, again 
thrilled the people with his grand plea for peace and 
union. Another episode of the period was Callender's 
trial for sedition, with the imcompromising Federalist, 
Luther Martin, on the bench. At this time William 
Wirt, George Hay (afterwards Monroe's son-in-law) 
and WiUiam B. Giles, all destined to be of prominence, 
came to the front. 

More exciting even than these political episodes was 



^ EBftory of Virginia, by Robert R. Howison, 8 vols.. Vol. II, p. 847, el Mq. 
He quotes Statutes-at-large (new series) II, 87, SiS and Ms. Journal of the House 
; of Delegates for 1799. 



228 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

the Gabriel slave rising which caused as great a stir 
in the fall of 1800 as did the Nat Turner rising 
in the summer of 1831. Gabriel, twenty-four years 
old, tall, strong, long-faced, with scars, a ^oomy and 
frowning fellow, was a slave on the plantation of Thomas 
Prosser near Richmond. Another negro giant, six feet 
five, who wore his hair in a queue, was Jack or "Jack 
Bowler." These two organized a plot, involving a 
thousand slaves, who were to attack Richmond at 
night, seize the arms at the armory, kill all the men, 
and divide the women among them. Howison tells of 
the sequel: On the evening of the day near the dose 
of August, a number of the conspirators had assembled 
in the coimtry, several miles from Richmond, where 
they prepared for an attack during the night. A tre- 
mendous summer storm came on, attended by torrents 
of rain, and while it was yet raging, a slave named 
Pharaoh, the property of William Mosby, escaped 
without being observed by his fellows and hastened to 
Richmond. JHe swam an intervening creek which was 
then rising, arrived safely in the city, and communi- 
cated his information, which was regarded as so 
important that it was carried immediately to Governor 
Monroe. Forthwith the alarm was given, the driuns 
beat, volunteer companies were called out, the militia 
were imder arms and all things were made ready to 
give the assailants a proper reception.^ Meantime the 
storm continued. Prosser, warned by a servant, 
escaped from his dwelling, by leaping through a window. 
Looking back he saw lightning flashes on the blades 
of innumerable scythes borne by the black insurgents. 
But these could make little headway in the storm. 
Some were drowned in the swollen streams and the 
rest dispersed. Of the ringleaders many were tried 
before the Justices of Henrico County, sitting in Oyer 



1 Howison'fl authority was Obadiah Gathright, who lived in RidiiDond at tlie 
time. The Ru^mond Examiner, September SO, 1800, contaiiifl Governor Monroe'i 
Proclamation of September 17. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 229 

and Terminer, and hanged, Gabriel and Jack hid for 
weeks, but were seized finally and were hanged. 

Louisiana ^ was not then a small area as now, but a 
wide region of wilderness, plain and mountain, home 
of numberless natives and grazing ground for herds of 
wild horses, deer and buffaloes. It stretched from the 
mouth of the Mississippi to its far-away fountain- 
heads. All the Missouri Country belonged to it, even 
to the bounds of Oregon. 

Four capitals figured in the drama of retrocession of 
Louisiana to France,* and its speedy transfer to the 
United States ^ — Washington, New Orleans, Madrid 
and Paris. Each had a group of characters. Those at 
Washington we know. Let us note some of those at 
New Orleans. 

The Spanish Governor of Louisiana was Juan Manuel 
de Salcedo, who had succeeded the Marques de Casa 
Calvo (1799-1801); successor of General Gayoso de 
Lemos (1797-1799); successor of the active and astute 
Baron de Carondelet (1792-1797); himself the successor 
of that mudb-talked-of Don Estevan Miro (1785-1792). 
Miro it was who plotted with Wilkinson to break the 
American Union west of the Alleghenies. Miro sailed 
for Spain, and there won fame as a brilliant Marescal 
de Campo. Carondelet continued Miro's tactics of 
corrupting Kentuckians. He offered a bribe of $100,000 
to Judge Benjamin Sebastian, District Attorney Harry 
Innes, Attorney General George Nicholas and others, to 
subvert American interests in Kentucky and bring 
about disunion. This, be pleased to note, was some time 
before Burr's more notorious Blennerhasset adventure 



^ Discovered by De Soto, 15S9; explored by Marquette and Joliet, 167S; taken 
pOMession of by La Salle, 1682, and named by him in honor of Louis XIV; it was 
mt settled by the brothers Iberville and Bienville, 1699. The grant to John 
Law of "Mississippi Bubble" fame was in 1718. New Orleans was founded in 
1722. Loub XV grumbled at the great expense of the colony; and, February, 
176S, ceded it to Spain. 

' There is no lack of data on this theme. The sources in the Library of Congress 
and Bureau of Rolls and Library, Department of State, Washington, are the papers 
of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe; the Henry Adams Transcripts of English and 
French State papers from the Spanish Archives, and the Claiborne papers. Vols. I 
and II* collected by Governor William C. C. Claibomr 



280 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

in treason. It was Carondelet who sent $9000, hidden 
in sugar barrels, which Philip Nolan delivered to 
Wilkinson.* Carondelet, with characteristic finesse, 
was frank on the surface and smooth below it. During 
his incumbency, Pinckney and Godoy signed, October 
20, 1795, a treaty between Spain and the United States, 
opening the Mississippi River to the Americans, giving 
them a three-year right to New Orleans as a place of 
deposit, conceding the Natchez district and establishing 
the Spanish-American line at the thirty-first parallel. 
As for Salcedo, he was "an impotent old man in his 
dotage";* the "soul of the government** was Don 
Andres Lopez de Armesto, secretary, who, with "a 
great fund of cunning towards his superiors and much 
arrogance outside,** had known "all the intrigues of 
the colony for twenty years. ** So much for the Louisi- 
ana Dons. They married Creole wives; they raised 
sugar and indigo, and got along well with the honest 
Governor of the Mississippi Territory, William C. C. 
Claiborne, until the intendant, Juan Buenaventura 
Morales, precipitated sudden trouble. 

As we have noted, it was Pinckney in Madrid who 
secured the Spanish-American arrangement known as 
the Treaty of San Lorenzo el Real, and the man with 
whom he dealt was Manuel de Godoy (1767-1851), 
Duke of Alcudia, Prime jNIinister of Spain. Don Carlos 
IV was King — "a Bourbon," says Henry Adams,' 
"but an ally of the French Republic and, since the 



» Sec tlic Spanish Conspiracy, by Thomas Marshall Green; Humphrey Marshall's 
Outline History; Gayarre*s Spanish Dumination; and, for Philip Nolan, Edward 
Evcn^lt Hale's Reminiscences. 

« Lttussrtt, the French prefect, to Due Denis Decres, July 18, 180S. Pierre 
Clement Laussat was a man of character and consequence. His letters to Decres 
are cletuwut and of illuminating quality. 

» Hislorv of the I'niteii Stales bv Henrv Adams, Vol. I, Chapter XIII, "The 
Simnish Court": XIV, *-The Retrocession"; XV, **TousMint Louvcrture" XVI.; 
•*CkvMire of the Mississippi"; XVH, *' Monroe's Mission/' A documentary work 
of K^cAt value in this connection is James Alexander Robertson's Louisiana Under 
the Rule of Sjvain, France and the Tniteil States, 1785-1807. Adams, in his nine- 
volume History, covers the perioil from the point of view of the States; Robert- 
son's two volumes supplement A^Uims, covering the period from the New Orleans 
■iiie. Rol>erts«>n gives a great deal of essential matter and presents a translation 
of Dr. IViul Elliot's UeHexiooa. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 281 

eighteentih Brumaire, a devoted admirer of the young 
Corsican who had betrayed the republic. " He was a 
truly devout man and an excellent gimsmith, unmindful 
of smutty hands. Adams says he dined alone, ate 
enormously, drank only water, "and in his whole life 
never so much looked at any woman but his wife.*' 
She, for her part, was quite tibe opposite. This incon- 
tinent queen was Dona Maria Luisa de Parma. One of 
her favorites had been the same Godoy who gave us the 
good treaty. He had brought about another treaty; 
that between France and Spain in 1795 and so was 
called "the Prince of Peace.'* Rich and profligate 
though he was, Godoy has been pronounced "quite the 
equal of Pitt, or Talleyrand, in diplomacy; and their 
superior in resource. *' ^ 

But Godoy certainly had a long way to go when he 
sought to circumvent Charles Maurice de Talleyrand- 
Perigord, Prince of Benevento (1754-1838). He was 
lame from boyhood.* When known 'as Abbe Perigord, 
he was a Bourbon favorite; when Bishop of An tun, he 
was a revolutionist, cynical enough to wink at La 
Fayette on the joyous day of the Feast of the Federa- 
tion. An emigr6 perforce, he nevertheless played the 
part of foreign minister — and a corrupt one, too — 
under the Directory; served Napoleon in the same 
oflBce; made himself useful to Napoleon's Bourbon 
successors; and, finally, lent his wisdom and cunning to 
Louis Phillippe. What a record in revolution and 
counter-revolution ! All his life, however far he fell, he 
got up unbruised to become a somebody in state 
affairs. 

To Mirabeau he was "this vile, base trickster"; but 
forty years after Mirabeau's death he was still a 



> H. Adams' History, Vol. I p. S48. Memcirei du Prince de la Paix, m. SO- 
88. For Godoy's relations with Queen Luisa, see the Spanish Journal of Lady 
Holland, edited by the Earl of Uchester, 1910. 

' He fell from the top of a cupboard and hurt his foot. This made him unfit 
for military service. His father and grandfather had been generals in the King's 
armies. His wife, a native of Pondi(£ery, who had been Catharine Noel Worlee, 
later Mme. Grant, spoke of him as **L*AbbS Piebot" — clubfoot. 



282 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

power.* "The first man of his period** — "for half a 
century the first man in Europe '* — Talleyrand " served 
in all eight known masters, not to reckon a great num- 
ber of others who were, at one time or another said to 
have him secretly in their pay. " Napoleon said he was 
"a stocking filled with filth. ^' Camot declared: ^'He 
has all the vices of the old regime and none of the 
virtues of the new'* — "he has no fixed principles, he 
changes them as he does his linen. ** Gouvemeur Morris 
said: "This man appears to me polished, cold, tricky, 
ambitious and bad. ** Nevertheless most of his biogra- 
phers agree with Whitelaw Reid: "The evil that Talley- 
rand did was chiefly to individuals. The good he did was 
to France." In a codicil to his will, Talleyrand made 
the claim that he had been true to France, and there- 
fore true to Europe. 

Was it by luck or design that Talleyrand spent the 
bloodiest days of the Terror in England? He had to get 
out of that country because of the alien law of 1794; 
so he sold his library to obtain funds, and came to the 
United States. He was here for thirty months, and they 
must have been long ones to him, as he had no par- 
ticular love either for our Constitution or cuisine. He 
said: "I found thirty-two different religions in the 
United States, but only one dish." If, perchance, he 
encountered our General James Wilkinson he looked 
upon a man of his own precious kind and kidney. 
Jefferson was slow to wrath against the Wilkinsons of 
that period of plots, chicane, and venality. He saw fit 
to look upon Wilkinson with politic indulgence, just 
as he did upon Burr. Only when Burr came out from 
cover was he made to feel the pinch of the law. Which 
was the more like Talleyrand — Burr, or Wilkinson.^ 
Or is it incongruous to bring up either in the same 
breath with the incomparably cunning diplomat whom 
only Napoleon could master and Godoy outwit? Burr 
was great as a politician. Wilkinson was not great at 

1 Memoirs of Prince de flalleyrandi by the Due de Brogiie^ introductioii by 
beUw BekL 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 2SS 

all; yet he, too, had that cat-like quality of always 
landing on his feet. Associate of Arnold, hand-in-glove 
with the plotters of the Conway Cabal, in the pay of 
Don Carlos — this Talleyrand of the wilderness finally 
bluffed Burr at the critical moment of their conspiracy 
and lived to cover himself with other clouds in the 
War of 1812. Talleyrand missed much if he failed to 
look into the Spanish conspiracy during his American 
visit. Probably he made a close study of the whole 
Louisiana situation; for upon his return to France,^ 
after the axe had ceased to drip, and upon his restora- 
tion to power as foreign minister of the Directory 
(July, 1797), he proceeded to carry out his scheme to 
re-acquire the region south of Natchez and west of the 
Mississippi.' This scheme was as simple as it was big. 
He sent Citizen Guillemardet as Minister to Madrid, 
May, 1798, with instructions to procure the retrocession 
of Louisiana and Florida to France.' As quid pro quo^ 
Don Carlos was to have three districts lately taken by 
French troops from the Papal State, so that he might 
unite them to the Duchy of Parma, of which his son-in- 
law would be Duke. Thus did Talleyrand sugar the 
pill that Citizen Guillemardet was to give the Spanish 
King. But Carlos demurred. He had a conscience. His 
religion was real. He was a devotee. He was averse 

^ TaUeyrand reached Paris on his return in September, 1796. November 28 he 
succeeded Charles Delacroix at the Foreign Office. There are many lives of Talley- 
rand, including the two-volume Life by Lady Blennerhassett (Grafin Leyden) 
translated from the German by Frederick Clarke. 

' It was while Talleyrand served the Directory that the X Y Z incident occurred. 
Talleyrand*s agents, Hottinguer, Bellamy and Hauteval, tried to exact a doceur of 
1,200,000 livres ($250,000) from the American envoys. Sainte Beuve in his Talley- 
rand makes much of his venality. Whitelaw Keid says, in his introduction to the 
Due de Broglie's book: "When the American Commissioners resented Talleyrand's 
denoand for a bribe of $250,000 for himself and a bigger one called a loan, for the 
Directory, (32,000,000 Dutch florins) his representatives said naively: * Don't you 
know that everything is bought in Paris? Do you dream that you can get on with 
this government without paying your way?'" A detailed statement of bribes 
received by Talleyrand appeared in Louis Bastide's "Life of Talleyrand," 1838. 
Tallevrand made no denial with respect to these specific charges. When Napoleon 
asked him how he had become so rich Talleyrand replied: "Nothing could be more 
simple. General: I bought Rentes the day before the eighteenth Brumaire and I sold 
them the day after." 

I Instructions to Guillemardet. May 20-June 19, 1708^ in the flench Foieigii 
ArdiiveB. 



234 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

to annexing papal land. Events, too, balked Talley- 
rand, who ceased to be foreign minister, July 20, 1799. 
Napoleon, at an impasse in Egypt, ran tibe British 
blockade, landed at Frejus, October 9 ; and, one month 
later executed his coup d^Hat known as that of the 
Eighteenth Brumaire. 

Though Napoleon had said "pitch the lawyers into 
the river, '* he had no such thought as that with respect 
to Talleyrand, whom he soon reintroduced into the 
foreign office. They had this thought in conmion: the 
restoration of the colonial power and glory of France. 
Hence in July, 1800, Napoleon instructed Talleyrand 
to send Citizen Alquier to Madrid. Alquier was to 
regain Louisiana. In August he was displaced by 
General Louis Alexander Berthier, who was to ask not 
only for Louisiana but for the two Floridas and six 
sloops of war. Berthier was Napoleon's "right-hand 
man in matters of secrecy and importance. " Septem- 
ber 30, Berthier and Godoy at San Ildefonso signed a 
secret treaty providing for the Louisiana retrocession. 
Next day was signed the Treaty of Morf ontaine whereby 
friendly relations were re-established between France 
and the United States. But, as Henry Adams points 
out, the retrocession treaty spoiled the treaty of friend- 
ship. However, one was secret, the other open. There 
was another open treaty — that of Amiens, March, 
1801, between Great Britain and France. It was a two- 
year truce; and gave Napoleon time to work out his 
project for the reconquest of St. Domingo and the 
restoration of French colonial power at New Orleans. 
Had Leclerc, husband of Napoleon's beautiful sister 
Pauline, succeeded in establishing a great French base 
on the Island of St. Domingo it is likely that the other 
part of the project might have been carried out. But 
there were obstacles in the way. There was a black 
Napoleon across the white Napoleon's path. Toussaint 
L'Ouverture, imbued with ideas of the French Revolu- 
tion, fought to the death, (or to the dungeon, which was 
bad) rather than see slavery reinstituted on the 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 2S5 

island; and, in so doing, he broke the military arm sent 
to seize him. Fever swept the French soldiers into their 
graves. Leelerc went speedily to his; and such terrible 
thingp happened as must have made Napoleon shudder 
to think of. 

Nor did his negotiations with Godoy go through 
quite as smoothly as Napoleon had anticipated. There 
was an irritating hitch. By the treaty of Luneville, 
February 9, 1801, the old Duke of Parma was dis- 
possessed of his Duchy and the son-in-law of Don 
Carlos was made ruler of Tuscany. Now Napoleon's 
brother Lucien, who had gone to Madrid to arrange for 
the erection of the kingdom of Tuscany and the Ameri- 
can territorial transfer, permitted himself to be egre- 
giously overreached. He was bribed with gold by the 
bold Godoy; and in his brother's name, approved the 
Treaty of Badajos, June 6, 1801, between Don Carlos 
IV and Don Juan, Prince Regent of Portugal. This 
was a spoke in Napoleon's wheel, balking as it did his 
design in that direction. Coincidently there were other 
happenings of a grave character, and Napoleon was 
forced to acquiesce. Meantime Godoy continued to 
thwart him. "I am long suflFering," wrote Napoleon 
to Talleyrand; Godoy 's conduct was insolent — "ce 
misirahley*' said he.^ Godoy exacted from the new 
French minister. General Gouvion St-Cyr, July, 1802, 
" a formal written pledge in the name of the First Consul 
that France would never alienate Louisiana. " * Never 
is a long while. Godoy also managed to resist Napo- 
leon's demand for the Floridas, which, as the King 
insisted, were not French at all. Talleyrand, let us 
interject, wanted East Florida to remain Spanish as 
a buffer against the United States. Napoleon sent out 
Prefect Laussat, to take possession of Louisiana; but 
it must have dawned upon the First Consul that he was 
exhausting himself to no purpose. The gallant Leelerc 



' Correspondance de Napoleon Premier, VII, 225-227. 

s Adams. History of the United SUtes; Vol. I, p. 400; Si-Cyr to Don Pedro 
Cevallo6, July 12, 1802; Yrujo to Madison. September 4/1803; Stete Papers* II, 569. 



t86 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

dead! An anny of ten thousand veterans sacrificed as 
completely as though every ship in the fleet had sunk 
with the poor soldiers to the bottom of the sea ! England 
again insolent ! Yes — with Napoleon the very thought 
of Louisiana must now have caused a shrug or a shudder. 
But how if he should end that Amiens truce? — how 
if he should attack England? Why, then, he would 
need all the money he could raise in both hemispheres. 
He would sell Louisiana. 

All this time Jefferson had been cultivating the 
friendship of both France and Spain. As early as May 
26, 1801, he wrote to Monroe:^ "There is considoable 
reason to apprehend that Spain cedes Louisiana and 
the Floridas to France. It is a policy very unwise in 
both, and very ominous to us. " The cession of Louisi- 
ana and the Floridas by Spain to France "works most 
sorely on the United States, '' he wrote, April 18, 1802, 
to Minister R. R. Livingston in Paris. He continued: 

" On this subject the Secretary of State has written to you fully; 
^et I cannot forbear recurring to it personally, so deep is the 
impression it makes on my mind. It completely reverses all the 
political relations of the United States, and will form a new epoch 
in our political course. . . . There is on the globe one single spot, 
the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is 
New Orleans, through which the produce of three-eighths of our 
territory must pass to market, and from its fertility it will ere 
long yield more than half of our whole produce and contain more 
than half of our inhabitants. France, placing herself in that door, 
assumes to us the attitude of defiance. Spain might have retained 
it quietly for years. Her pacific disposition, her feeble state, would 
induce her to increase our facilities there, so that her possession 61 
the place would hardly be felt by us, and it would not perhaps be 
very long before some circumstance might arise which might make 
the cession of it to us the price of something of more worUi to her. 
Not so can it ever be in the hands of France. . . . The day that 

1 Writings of Jefferson, Ford. Vol. VIII. p. 58. He again referred to it May 29. 
November 24 he wrote a long letter to Monroe on the subject of a "receptacle*' 
beyond the limits of the United States for deported blacks of dangerous character. 
November 14 he wrote introducing Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin. 
Monroe's letters to Jefferson and others in regard to the "purchase of lands without 
the limits of the State to which persons obnoxious to the laws or dangerous to the 
peace of society might be removed** are in Vol. Ill of the Writings of Monroe. 
Much of the correspondence in Vol. Ill relates to Virginia affairs and is £ioiii the 
''«tter-Book in the State library at Richmond. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 237 

France takes possession of New Orleans fixes the sentence which 
is to retain her forever within the low-water mark. It seals the 
union of two nations who, in conjunction, can maintain exclusive 
possession of tJie ocean. From that moment we must marry our- 
selves to the British fleet and nation. **^ 

This explicit letter was sent secretly by the hand of 
du Pont de Nemours, who was asked to see Napoleon 
and treat with him unoflSeially. He was to "impress 
on the First Consul the idea that if he should occupy 
Louisiana, the United States would wait *a few years* 
until the next war between France and England, but 
would then make conmion cause vnth England. "^ 

That spring and fall alarming news came from other 
directions. Madison had sent Tobias Lear to see what 
Leclerc was doing in St. Domingo. Lear had been given 
an uncivil conge and returned to Washington with 
reports indicative that Napoleon meant mischief. 
Americans were no better than Arabs, Leclerc had said; 
they were the scum of the nations. Louis Andr6 Pichon, 
the French charg6 at Washington endeavored to mollify 
Madison, but Talleyrand sent Pichon a rebuke. Then 
on top of the French trouble came that other of which 
we have hinted — the trouble at New Orleans, precipi- 
tated by Intendant Morales, *'a man of low extraction 
. . . evil by nature,"' who, October 16, 1802, issued 
a decree that New Orleans should no longer be a place 
of deposit for Americans. This fired the West. To 
Jefferson it seemed like a peal of thunder, betokening 
a tempest. The Spanish Minister at Washington 
hastened to repudiate the intendant's act. This was 
Don Carlos Martinez d' Yrujo (Spanish, Marques de 
Casa Irujo) who had married a daughter of Jefferson's 
friend and follower, Governor Thomas McKean of Penn- 
sylvania. Yrujo wrote much; and with a peppery vigor 
unusual among diplomats. ''Half Don and haff Sans 
Cidotte,*' Cobbett called him. He was bitter against 

^ Writings of Jefferson. Ford, Vol. Vm, pp. 14S-147. 
« H. Adams. History. Vol. I. p. 411. 

* Voyage dans Us deux Louisianes (Thtvels Through the Two LoukiaDu) hj 
P. M. Perm du Lac. 



2a8 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

Napoleon and fought the retrocession of Louisiana.^ 
Such were some of the excitements of a long period d 
anxiety. Historian Adams, always severe upon Jeffer- 
son, lays stress upon Jefferson's inconsistencies. 

** 'Peace is our passion!' This phrase of President Jefferson' • • • 
expressed his true policy. In spite of his frequent menaces, he 
told Livingston in October, 180^, that the French occupation of 
Louisiana was not 'important enough to risk a breach of peace.' " 

Jefferson was inconsistent in this particular, as in 
many other matters involving the safety of the young 
republic; but he was doing the best he could. Edward 
Thornton, in charge of the English legation, wrote to 
Lord Robert Hawkesbury (Earl of Liverpool) who had 
signed the peace with France, that the storm had dis- 
persed for a short time only. Jefferson was well aware 
of this. It took a long while to conmiunicate with 
Livingston. With an extraordinary man, a restless 
genius, experimenting as Napoleon was in the recon- 
struction of kingdoms, it was hard to tell one day what 
would happen the next. We do not excuse Jefferson or 
apologize for him — he needs neither excuse nor apology 
— yet it is well to remind the reader of the immaturity 
of the American republic in his day, of the difficulties 
of communication then as compared with the facilities 
of the present time, and of the exceptional nature of the 
chief character on the world's stage following a revolu- 
tion that shook mankind. Two political considerations 
influenced Jefferson: He felt himself under the hostile 
eye of the clerical conservatives of New England ("the 
clergy had always hated Jefferson, " says Adams) ; and 
he felt himself under the scrutiny of certain common 
people in all sections who knew that wars beget taxes. 

Livingston wrote to Madison, January 13, 1802: 

"There was never a government where less could be done by 
negotiations than here. There are no people, no legislature, no 

^ Subsequently this proud Don quarreled with Madison and Jefferson. Long 
in favor at the White House, he at last became persona non grata. He tou^t to 
promote Burr's schemes in the Mississippi Valley. 

* Jefferson to Sir John Sinclair. June 30, 180S, Writings IV, 490. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 2S9 

oounsellora. One man is everything. ... He seldom asks advice 
and never hears it unasked. His ministers are mere clerks, and 
his legislature and counsellors parade officers. ** 

JeflFerson had named Robert R. Livingston as Min- 
ister to France the day after his inauguration.^ Aside 
from Philip, the Signer, nearly a score of Livingstons 
made their mark in early American history. They were 
of romantic lineage, descendants of Robert, a fugitive 
Scotch parson, who having sailed for the Western 
world, found himself, by stress of furious storms, driven 
back and doomed to die in Holland. But the hand of 
heaven seemed in it; for his son Robert acquired the 
Dutch tongue and Dutch culture; and, being a hand- 
some youth, made his way among the Van Rensselaers 
and Schuylers*. This Robert R. had a famous son. 
Judge Robert R. — "a lover of liberty"* — father of 
Chancellor Robert R., "the rebel," graduate of King's 
College (now Columbia University), law-partner of 
John Jay, Chairman of the Committee to draft the 
Declaration of Independence, Chairman of the New 
York Constitutional Convention (1788), the man who 
administered the oath at Washington's first inaugura- 
tion, Robert Fulton's friend and patron, and now 
Jefferson's minister to France. He was a very rich 
man, a very generous man, fond of books, a good writer 
and something of an orator. He was up and out every 

^ Edward, brother of the Livingston who "made the initial move in the purchase 
of Louisiana, " was the most noted Republican of the family. He was twenty years 
younger than Robert. He was District Attorney and Mayor of New York. He 
nvored the Burr scheme, and defended its participants in the courts. He also 
defended the LaFitts, identified with New Orleans. General H. B. Livingston was 
another brother of Robert R. "The New York Republicans," says Henry Adams 
in his History, Vol. I, p. 230, "were divided into three factions, represented by 
Clinton, Livingston and Burr int^r^ts; and among them was so little difference in 
principle or morals, that a politician as honest and an observer as keen as Albert 
Gallatin inclined to Burr as the least selfish of the three." Gallatin to Jefferson, 
September 14, 1801. Life of Gallatin by Henry Adams, p. 288. 

' When Nicholas Van Rensselaer was on his deathbed he pointed to this immi- 
grant Livingston, who had been brought into the room to draw up his wiU, and 
cried out to his wife: "Take him away! Take him away. I know. That young man 
shall not make my will; be will be your second husband." And he was; and became 
first lord of Livingston Manor. He fitted out a ship for Captain Kidd before Kidd 
turned pirate. It was his third son Robert who, when an Indian hid in a chinmey, 
seized the savage by the leg and pulled him down. The Lidian oonfesied that a 
massacre had been planned. It was prevented by this discoveiy. 



240 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

morning at five. Tall and of gracious manners, he 
would have been a better figure in company but that 
he was hard of hearing. He was seven years older than 
Monroe.^ Livingston and Jefferson were not quite in 
accord on the subject of retrocession. Livingston 
thought that "so long as France conforms to existing 
treaties'* between the United States and Spain, we 
should not oppose the transfer of the Louisiana territory 
to her." 

Thus it happened that Jefferson felt the need of some 
one in Paris other than Livingston. Besides, Jefferson 
could instruct this other diplomat by word of mouth 
instead of by labored correspondence, liable to misin- 
terpretation. To him, Monroe was the man for the 
mission. He had just ended his term as Governor of 
Virginia. He "had many qualities," said Flrederick 
Austin Ogg, " to recommend him for the task. He was 
genial, conscientious, patriotic and well-versed in the 
art of diplomacy. His former residence in Paris, while 
not wholly of glorious memory, had nevertheless pre- 
pared him in no small degree for the work now com- 
mitted to him. " * Moreover, he was as near to Jeffer- 
son personally and politically as any one, except Madi- 
son — obviously Monroe must be sent. So Jefferson 
wrote* to him about it and on January 10, 1803, nom- 
inated him Envoy Extraordinary to France. On the 
same day General Samuel Smith introduced a resolution 
in the House of Representatives, appropriating $2,000,- 
000 to defray any expenses which ** may be incurred in 
relation to the United States and foreign nations."* 
On the eleventh, the House voted to apply the 
$2,000,000 to the purchase of West Florida and New 
Orleans. 

On Feb ruary third Jefferson wrote to Livingston " to 

^ Napoleon gave him a gold snuff-box, on which was his own portrait by Isabey* 
Stuart's portrait of Chancellor Livingston was used on the one-cent stamps oom- 
memoratmg the Louisiana Purchase. 

* The opening of the Mississippi, by F. A. Ogg, 1904, p. 501. 

* Jefferson to Monroe, January 10 and 13, 1803. Writings of Jefferson (Ford), 
Vol. VIII. p. 188. 

4 Annals of Congress (1802-1803), pp. S70-374« 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 241 

work diligently for the cession of New Orleans by 
France to the United States." It was not Louisiana 
territory that was to be purchased, but "a barren sand 
six hundred miles from east to west, and from thirty 
to forty and fifty miles north to south, formed by the 
deposition of the sands by the Gulf Stream in its circular 
course round the Mexican Gulf."^ 

Monroe went from Richmond to Albemarle; and 
thence westward, in order to look after his interests in 
that quarter. He might be gone for years. He wrote 
from New York to Madison, February 22: "I arrived 
here on Saturday so much overcome with the fatigue 
of the journey that I kept my bed yesterday and was 
attended by a physician.** He was still housed, but 
expected to be out in a few days. He had engaged passage 
on a ship for Havre, detained at his expense; but, as his 
final instructions were not at hand, he had to let her sail 
without him. March sixth he wrote to George Clinton:* 

''I am now embarking on a new mission, which I neither sought 
or expected, but which I undertook with pleasure, as it is to act 
on an interest I have always had much at heart, on the principles 
of general right and policy. Of the result I can say nothing but I 
promise zeal in the undertaking and a certainty that if I do not 
miprove the condition of our country I will not make it worse. 
It is uncertain how long I shall be absent, but the probability is, 
especially if I go to Spain, that I shall not be back till spring 
twelve month. I have the cabbin of a good ship, take my family 
with me, and expect to sail to-morrow morning." 

Next day he received his instructions' and necessary 

^ Jefferson to du Pont de Nemours, February 1, 1803. Writings of Jefferson 
(Ford). Vol. VIII, p. 206. 

* Clinton Papers, No. 71 IS; see also Writings of Monroe, Vol. IV, for this letter 
and others of the Louisiana Purchase Period; see Writings of Madison, edited by 
Gaillard Hunt, Vol. VIII, for Madison's letters to Monroe. 

* Madison's instructions to Livingston and Monroe, March 2, 1803, American 
Stete Papers, Vol. II, p. 540; Annals of Congress (1802-1803) pp. 1095-1107. In 
his diapter on ** Monroe's Mission" (Vol. I) Henry Adams tells of the activities of 
Thornton for Great Britain and Pichon for France. Pichon wrote to Talleyrand that 
Monroe had threatened to "receive the overtures which England was incessantly 
making." Monroe would hardly have done anything of the sort. Adams indicates 
the instructions. They were to bid rather than lose New Orleans and the Floridas. 
But if they should be unobtainable, take the right of deposit. Should that be 
denied "the commissioners were to be guided by instructions especially adapted 
to \he case.'* *'The essence and genius of Jefferson's statesnuuuthip," oommenta 
^/Uma, **lay in peace." 



242 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

documents, together with a letter from Jeflferson;^ 
but his ship, tibe Richmond, four hundred tons, was 
held in port by a snowstorm and head winds: finally 
she put to sea with bright skies and a good breeze on 
the morning of the ninth. 

'"Monroe," says Mervmi, ''had not a word in 
writing to show that in purcliasing Louisiana — if the 
act should be repudiated by the nation — he did not 
exceed his instructions."* Monroe trusted Jefferson. 
"Jefferson's friends always trusted him perfectly," says 
Henry Adams. 

While Monroe was crossing the Atlantic things were 
happening in Paris; and in London likewise. War was 
brewing. Napoleon had made up his mind to abandon 
Louisiana and attack England. It was no whim on his 
part. The St. Domingo disaster had grown into a 
horror — a colonial debacle, bringing down discredit 
upon his own head and upon Talleyrand's too. The 
Dominican war had devoured more men than the 
guillotine and here was Rochambeau (son of our York- 
town Rochambeau) asking for more — thirty-five 
thousand more. 

On March 12, Talleyrand at Mme. Bonaparte's 
drawing-room heard Napoleon say to Lord Whitworth, 
the British Minister: "I find, Milord, that your nation 
wants war again.'* "No, Sir," replied his lordship, 
" we are desirous of peace. " "I must either have Malta 
or war," said Napoleon. 

WTiitworth repeated the words to Livingston, who 
lost no time in forwarding them to Madison. Rufus 
King, the American Minister at London, also sent 
Madison a little story. Henry Addington (Lord 
Sidmouth), Lord of the Privy Seal, had said to him: 

^ In reply to Jefferson's letter, Monroe said: "The resolutions of Mr. [James] 
Ross prove that the Federal party will stick at nothing to embarrass the adm° and 
recover its lost power. They nevertheless produce a great effect on the public 
mind and I presume more especially in the western country.** Senator Ross 
wanted Jefferson to take New Orleans by armed force. Monroe added: "I accept 
my appointment with gratitude and enter on its duties with an ardent seal to 
accomplish its objects.*' 

^ Thomas Jefferson, by Henry Childs Merwin, pp. 187, 128. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 243 



"If you can obtain Louisiana — well! If not we ought 
to prevent its going into the hands of France." 

Nevertheless no such news was coming from Living- 
ston. He gave Jefferson little encouragement. "Do 
not despair, " was one of his messages. He knew Monroe 
to be approaching the shores of France; and that 
knowledge spurred him to fresh endeavor. Could he 
settle the business before his colleague's ship should 
come to anchor at Havre? That was very much in his 
thought. It was natural that he should wish to do a 
good piece of work; and, that, too, all by himself. ^ 
Why share such an honor with an interloper? But 
the greater Livingston's anxiety to consummate the 
deal the less Talleyrand conceded. Adams says: 
"Monroe arrived in sight of the French coast April 
7, 1803; but while he was still on the ocean, Bonaparte 
without reference to him or his mission, opened his 
mind to Talleyrand in regard to ceding Louisiana to the 
United States. The First Consul a few days afterward 
repeated to his Finance Minister, Barbe Marbois, a part 
of the conversation with Talleyrand. . . . *He alone 
knows my intentions, ' said Bonaparte to Marbois. . . . 
In reality the cession of Louisiana meant the over- 
throw of Talleyrand's influence." 

Talleyrand had more than one motive in wishing to 
mulct Livingston out of a large sum. As we have seen, 
he himself was involved in the collapse of the grand 
scheme of colonial reconstruction. His prestige was 
suffering as well as Napoleon's; and so if he could go 
to Napoleon and say: *' Behold, General, we have not 
done so badly after all!" the sore would be salved — 
his own and his master's. Or, possibly, he meant to 
pocket as much of the money as Livingston would let 
him. . . . That motive is suggested by Edward 



* Monroe wrote to Madison. April 13, 1803: "I was informed on my [arrival here 
by Mr. Skipwith, that Mr. Livingston, mortified at my appointment, had done 
ever3rthing m his power to turn the occurrences in America, and even my mission 
to his account, by pressing the government on every point with a view to show that 
be had accomplished what was wished without my aid." Monroe'i Writings, Vol. 
IV. p. 9. 



244 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Channing, in "The Jeffersonian System," when he 
says that Napoleon hesitated to trust Talleyrand with 
the money. Napoleon wanted to fill his war-chest 
Albert Bushnell Hart says: "In reality, the province 
was thrown to the United States, as the Caliph Hanm- 
al-Raschid might have given a palace to a poor mer- 
chant who had admired the portico.'* Rather was 
Napoleon a caliph, out of cash, in search of a pawn- 
broker. Nevertheless the act of cession stands out as 
something prodigal and Napoleonic. The ruler who 
could throw away the lives of a million men could find 
it in him to throw away a million, or very nearly a 
million square miles of the earth's surface. Perhaps 
Napoleon's geography was at fault, as Livingston's 
seems to have been. Monroe knew the great West 
better than either.^ 

Livingston did not grasp the full situation. Appar- 
ently he did not realize that Napoleon had been seized 
with deep disgust and that now, when his gorge had 
risen, was the time to take the whole of Louisiana oflP 
his hands. He hesitated, and so was lost; or rather 
he failed to advance the negotiations beyond the 
inconclusive preliminaries. Let us cite Adams, who 
says:* 



u 



Easter Sunday, April 10, 1803, arrived, and Monroe was 
leaving Havre for Paris, when Bonaparte, after the religious 
ceremonies of the day at St. Cloud, called to him two of his 
ministers of whom Barbe Marbois was one. He wished to e3q>lain 
his intention of selling Louisiana to the United States; and he did 
so in his peculiar way. He began by expressing the fear that 
England would seize Louisiana as her first act of war. *I think of 
ceding it to the United States. I can scarcely say that I cede it 
to them, for it is not yet in our possession. If, however I leave 
the least time to our enemies, I shall only transmit an empty 

* Morris continued to write disapprovingly of Monroe. "It is possible I am 
unjust to Mr. Monroe," he wrote to R. R. Livingston, in Paris, "but I really con- 
sider him a person of mediocrity in every respect. Just exceptions lie against his 
diplomatic character, and, taking all circumstances into consideration, his appoint- 
ment must appear extraordinary to the Cabinets of Europe. . . . The pretext that 
he is only joined with you in the commission is mere pretext, and every discreet 
man with you will naturally consider him as the principal and the chici, and, in 
fact the sole minister. * 

* k. Adams, History of the United SUtes, Vol. II, p. 2G, «< teq. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 245 

title to those republicans whose friendship I seek. They ask me 
only one town in Louisiana; but I already consider the colony 
as entirely lost; and it app)ears to me that in the hands of this 
growing power it will be more useful to the policy, and even to the 
commerce of France than if I should attempt to keep it. ' " 

Marbois agreed; the other minister demurred. Next 
morning at daybreak Napoleon summoned Marbois 
and said to him: 

''Irresolution and deliberation are no longer in season. I 
renounce Louisiana. It is not only New Orleans that I cede; it 
is the whole colony, without reserve. I know the price of what I 
abandon. ... I renounce it with the greatest regret; to attempt 
obstinately to retain it would be folly. I direct you to negotiate 
the affair. Have an interview this very day with Mr. Livingston. '* 

But Talleyrand it was who saw Livingston first.* 
"He asked me," reported Livingston, "whether we 
wished to have the whole of Louisiana. I told him 
no/* Livingston added that it would be better if 
France should give up the territory north of the 
Arkansas, so that she could have a barrier against 
Canada. Talleyrand wanted to know what America 
would give for Uie whole. Livingston named 20,000,000 
francs as a possible sum. But Monroe, he said, would 
soon be in Paris. Talleyrand told him to think it over. 
"The next day, Tuesday, April 12,** says Adams, 
"Livingston, partly recovered from his surprise, hung 
about Talleyrand persistently for his chance of reaping 
alone the fruit of his labors,** vanishing with every 
minute that passed. "Monroe,** continues Adams, 
"had reached St. Germain late Monday night, and at 
one o'clock Tuesday afternoon descended from his 
post-chaise at the door of his Paris hotel.* From the 

> Livingston to Madison, April 11, 1803; State Papers, Vol. II, p. 552. It if 
said that when Bonaparte gave instructions to M. Marbois in re^d to the cession, 
he stated that from the nature of the new combination formmg against him in 
Europe, he was forced to sell the entire province or hold it at a great sacrifice of 
men and money, and probably be compelled to see it captured. He preferred to 
transfer it to the United States, adding that whatever nation held the valley of the 
Mississippi would be eventually the most powerful on earth, and that consequently 
he preferred a friendlynation should passess it rather than an enemy of France.— 
The Public Doraa n. Thomas Donaldson, p. 95. 

* Memoira of James Monroe^ 1828; CoL Mercer*! Journal, p. 55. Henry Adams. 
History, Vol. U, p. 2». 



248 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

with a mixture of eau de cologne/* So says Henry 
Adams, who adds: 

'"They talked for some time on indifferent matters. Lucien 
was timid and dared not speak until Joseph came. Then Ni^leon 
announced his decision to sell Louisiana, and invited Luaen to 
say what he thought of it. 

T flatter myself/ replied Luden, 'that the Chambers will not 
give their consent.' 

"You flatter yourself!' repeated Napoleon, in a tone of surprise; 
then murmuring in a lower voice *that is precious, in truth!* 
{*c*€st precieux^ en viriU.*) 

'And I too flatter myself, as I have already told the First Consul !' 
cried Joseph. 

'And what did I answer?' said Napoleon, warmly, glaring from 
his bath at the two men. 

That you would do without the Chambers.' 

Tredsely! That is what I have taken the great liberty to tell 
Mr. Joseph, and what I now repeat to the Citizen Lucien. . . .' 

At this, Joseph came close to the bath, and rejoined in a v^e- 
ment tone: 'And you will do well, my dear brother, not to expose 
your project to parliamentary discussion; for I declare to you that 
if necessary I will put myself first at the head of the opposition 
which will not fail to be made against you.' 

The First Consul burst into a peal of forced lau^ter, while 
Joseph, crimson with anger and almost stammering his words 
went on: *Laugh, laugh, laugh, then! I will act up to my promise; 
and though I am not fond of mounting the tribune, this time 
you will see me there!' 

Napoleon, half rising from the bath, rejoined in a serious tone: 
'You will have no need to lead the opposition, for I repeat there 
will be no debate for the reason that the project which has not 
the fortune to meet with your approval, conceived by me, nego- 
tiated by me, shall be ratified and executed by me, do you compre- 
hend? — by me, who laugh at your opposition!' 

Hereupon Joseph wholly lost his self-control, and with flashing 
eyes shouted: 'Good! I tell you. General, that you, I and all of us, 
if you do what you threaten may prepare ourselves soon to go and 
join the poor innocent devils whom you so legally, humanely, and 
especially with such justice, have transported to Sinnamary.' 

At this terrible rejoinder. Napoleon half started up, crying 
out: *You are insolent! I ought — ' then threw himself back in 
the bath which sent a mass of perfumed water into Joseph's flushed 
face, drenching him and Lucien, who had the wit to quote, in a 
theatrical tone, the words which Virgil put into the mouth of 
Neptune reproving the waves. 

*Quos ego. . .' 



THE LIFE OP JAMES MONROE 249 

Between the water and the wit the three Bonapartes recovered 
their temper, while the valet who was present, overcome by fear, 
fainted and fell to the floor. ' " 

The worst of the storm was now over, since Joseph 
had to change his clothes; but Lucien, who was in 
earnest brought on another wordy gust of anger. From 
jesting about what he called his " Louisianicide, " 
Napoleon again fell upon Lucien. "You lay it on 
handsomely!" he cried. "Unconstitutional is droll 
from you. Come now let me alone! How have I hurt 
your Constitution? Answer!" Lucien attempted to 
do so. Napoleon interrupted him: "Go about your 
business ! Constitution ! Unconstitutional ! republic ! 
national sovereignty ! — big words! great phrases ! . . ." 
"If I were not your brother I would be your enemy." 
"My enemy ! Ah ! I would advise you ! — My enemy ! 
That is a trifle strong! . . . You my enemy! I would 
break you, look, like this box !" And he " flung his snuff- 
box violently on the floor. "^ 

Thus whether splashing bath water with oceanic 
violence on one brother's clothes, or scattering snuff 
in a manner likely to make another brother sneeze. 
Napoleon was not to be browbeaten. He had plenty 
to think of. On April 17, he announced to the Pope 
that he was at war with England. Exciting events in 
Europ>e would put Louisiana out of the popular mind. 
Sooner or later, Frenchmen would bemoan the loss of 
Louisiana — how could they help it? but now they 
were too busy to weigh the matter. Napoleon, April 23, 
handed Marbois a project of a secret convention with 
the United States^ "providing for the cession of 
Louisiana, in return for the granting of several cessions 



^ ''III taking Louisiana," says Edward Channing, "we were the aooomplioes of 
tibe greatest highwayman of modem history." u. S. Muzzey sums up against 
Napoleon thus: (1) ''Napoleon had not taken possession of Louisiana when he sold 
it to us. (2) He had never fulfilled his part of the bargain with Spain. (S) l-ie had 
promised Spain never to transfer Louisiana to a foreign power. (4) He was forbid- 
den by Uie French Constitution to alienate any territory of the French Repubhc *' 

* Correspondance de Napoleon Premier* Vol. VIII, p. 280; Gihnan, p. 82; 
Adams, History, Vol. H, pp. 40, 41; The Opening of the Mississippi, F. A. Ogg. 
p. 529. 



250 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

of the United States, including the free navigation of 
the Mississippi, perpetual right of deposit at six points 
on the river, the payment to France of 100,000,000 
francs, and Uie liquidation of American claims unpro- 
vided for by the Convention of 1800." 

Marbois placed this TprojH before Monroe and Living- 
ston on April 28. Monroe had been sick, so the meet- 
ing was held in his hotel. Even now he was unable 
to exert himself. He was obliged to stretch himself 
out at his ease on a sofa. The only known record of the 
conference is to be found in Monroe's Memoranda.^ 
There was a long discussion. Livingston pressed the 
claims. Monroe overruled him. Marbois substituted 
his own jyrojH for Napoleon's. By this the price was 
to be 80,000,000 francs, including 20,000,000 to cover 
claims. Marbois withdrew. Monroe and Livingston 
then drew up a contre-projH offering a total of 70,000,- 
000 francs; and this tJiey submitted to Marbois. But 
Marbois convinced them that his minimum was 
80,000,000; and they agreed to give this sum — 
$15,000,000.* Part of the money, $3,750,000, was to go 
to the American creditors of France, and was to be paid 
to them by the United States Government. On April 30, 
Napoleon approved of the arrangement, although he 
scolded Marbois in the matter of the claims. It was 
"wasting money" to pay them. He wanted it for 
gunpowder. 

All this time Monroe had been awaiting his formal 
presentation. Talleyrand is said to have delayed it 
purposely; perhaps he thought that some sort of light- 
ning might strike, out of the Napoleonic sky, and fliat 
the sale of Ix)uisiana might be abandoned overnight 
Monroe accompanied Livingston to the palace of the 

^ Journal or Memoranda Louisiana, April 27, printed in full in the WiitingB of 
Monroe, by S. M. Hamilton, Vol. IV, pp. 12-15; also Addenda to the Jounial 
Appendix I, Vol. IV. pp. 499. 600. 

* Or $15,000,000 in money and stocks; the interest on the stocks to time ol 
redemption, $8,529,353; claims of citizens of the United States due from FVinoe 
paid by the United SUtes, $8,738,!e08.98, a toUl of $27,267,621.08, and added to 
the public domain 1,182,752 square miles or 756,961,280 acres.— The Public 
Domain by Thomas Donaldson, 1884, p. 12. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 251 

Louvre, Sunday, May 1 ; and here is his account of his 
first meeting with Napoleon: 

**When the Consul came around to me, Mr. Livingston pre- 
sented me to him, on which the Consul observed that he was glad 
to see me. Ve suis bien aise de le voir.' 'You have been here fifteen 
days?' *I told him I had.' 'You speak French?' I replied: *A 
little.* *You had a good voyage?' 'Yes.' *You came in a frigate?' 
'No, in a merchant vessel charged for the purpose.' Col. Mercer 
was presented. Says he: lie is the Secretary of the Legation?' 
*No, but my friend.' He then made enquiries of Mr. Livingston 
and his Sea*etary, how their families were, and then turned to 
Mr. Livingston and myself and observed that our affairs should be 
settled. We dined with him. After dinner when we retired into 
the saloon, the First Consul came up to me and asked whether the 
Federal City grew much. I told him it did. Ilow many inhabit- 
ants has it?' 'It is just commencing; there are two cities near it, 
one above, the other below, on the great river Potomack, which 
two cities if counted with the Federal City would make a respectable 
town; in itself it contains only two or three thousand inhabitants.' 
*Well, Mr. Jefferson; how old is he?' 'About sixty.' 'Is he married 
or single?' lie is not married.' 'Then he is a gargon.' 'No, he is a 
widower.' lias he children?' 'Yes, two daughters, who are 
married.' 'Does he reside always at the Federal City?' 'Generally.' 
'Are the public buildings there commodious, those for Congress 
and President especially?' 'They are.' 'You, the Americans, did 
brilliant things in your war with England; you will do the same 
again.' 'We shall, I am persuaded, always do well when it shall 
be our lot to be in war.' 'You may probably be in war with them 
again.' I replied I did not know; that was an important question 
to decide when there should be occasion for it." 

That evening Monroe and Livingston and Marbois 
again met. Monroe says in his Memoranda: 

"May 2nd. We actually signed the treaty and convention for 
the sixty millions of francs to France in the French language; 
but our copies in English not being made out we could not sign 
in our language. They were however prepared and signed in two 
or three days afterwards. The Convention respecting American 
claims took more time, and was not signed till about the 8th or 
9th. All the documents were antedated to the thirtieth of April."* 

' American State Papers, Foreign* Vol. U, pp. 507-509; select Documents by 
William MacDonald, pp. 160-165, contains treaty in full. Monroe's Journal of the 
Negotiations for the Purchase of Louisiana, April 27-May 2, 1803, published from the 
original Ms. in the Library of Congress, may be found in Monroe's Writings, 
Vol. rV, pp. 12-19; in Louisiana Purchase Papers, 1903, pp. 165-172; and in the 
Library of Congress, Notes for the Louisiana Purchase. Exposition* St. Louis, Mo. 
IfXM. No. 5. pp. 9-16. 



U9 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Livingston wrote: 

*' We have lived lonff, but this is the noblest work of our whole 
lives. The treaty we have just signed had not been obtained by 
art or dictated hy^ force; equally advantageous to the two con- 
tracting parties, it will change vast solitudes into flourishing 
districts. From this day the United States will take their place 
among the powers of the first rank; the English lose all the ckcIu- 
sive influence in the affairs of America. ** 

Would Livingston have bought without Monroe? 
He had said that he had no such authority. Both min- 
isters, for that matter "were embarrassed by the fact 
that the tender of the territory was beyond their 
instructions to buy or receive. Sometimes an army is 
unequal to a given task; it is re-enforced; thus strength- 
ened it wins a victory. So it was when Monroe re- 
enforced Livingston. 

In his "Century of American Diplomacy,'* John W. 
Foster, speaking of the Louisiana Purchase, said: "It 
made the acquisition of Florida a necessity. It brought 
about the annexation of Texas, the Mexican War, the 
thirst for more slave territory to preserve the balance 
of power, the Civil War, and the abolition of slavery. 
It led to our Pacific Coast possessions, the construction 
of the transcontinental lines of railway and our marvel- 
ous Rocky Mountain development, the demand for the 
Isthmus Canal, the purchase of Alaska, the annexation 
of Hawaii .... It fixed our destiny for world power."* 

The purchase of Louisiana was not strictly constitu- 
tional — extra-constitutional, rather than unconstitu- 
tional as one of Jefferson's biographers, Merwin, 
reminds us. Jefferson thought the Constitution ought 
to be amended so as to constitutionalize it; but this was 
never done. 

Jefferson wrote to Breckenridge, August 12, 1803: 

"The Constitution made no provision for our holding foreign 
territory, still less for incorporating territory into our union. 
The Executive in seizing the fugitive occurrence which so much 
ad\'ances the good of their country, have done an act beyond the 
Constitution. ' 

^ Compare Gilman's thought in Monroe, p. 98. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE i5S 

Jeflferson called Congress in extra session, October 17, 
1803; on the nineteenUi, the Senate ratified the treaty; 
on the twenty-first, ratifications were exchanged with 
Pichon, French chargS d'affaires; and, on the same day 
the President sent in a special message. John Randolph 
of Roanoke moved that provision be made for carrying 
out the treaty. This was passed, October 25. Various 
acts to this end were adopted by Congress. On Novem- 
ber 30, at New Orleans, Prefect Laussat received the 
province from the Marques de Casa Calvo, Spanish 
conmiissioner; and twenty days later it was transferred 
to the American commissioners, William C. C. Claiborne 
and James Wilkinson. C. C. Robin^ witnessed the 
transfer of Louisiana to the United States. He says: 

"I saw the French flag slowly descending and that of the United 
States gradually rising at the same time. Soon a French officer 
took the first to wrap it up and bear it silently into the rear. The 
American flag remained stuck for a long time, in spite of the efforts 
to raise it, as if it were confused at taking the place of that to 
which it owed its glorious independence. An anxious silence 
reigned at that moment among all the spectators who flooded the 
plaza, who crowded against the galleries, balconies and windows; 
and it was not until the flag had been hoisted up that suddenly 
piercing cries of 'Huzza!' [burst from the midst of one particular 
group, who waved their hats at the same time. Those cries and 
that movement made more gloomy the silence and the quietness 
of the rest of the crowd of spectators scattered far and wide — 
they were French and Spanish and were all moved and confounded 
their sighs and tears."' 

"The Anglo-Americans, " wrote Laussat, "are extrav- 
agant in their joy. Most of the Spaniards . . . have 
the stupidity to show themselves satisfied. The French, 
that is to say, nine-tenths of the population, are stupe- 
fied and disconsolate .... The Louisianian . • . saw 
himself with regret rejected for the second time from the 
bosom of his ancient mother country. " Claiborne was 

' Voyages, Vol. II, pp. 128-141; as died in Robertson's Louisiana. Vol. II, pp. 

AACr AAA 

JDEO, SXO. 

* Similar ceremonies for Upper Louisiana occurred at St. Louis, March 9 and 
10. 1804. See "Prance in America" by R. G. Thwaites. 1906. Chapter XVIII. See 
Gayarre's "Louisiana under Spanish Domination." Also "Mississippi" by J. F. H. 
Claiborne, 1800. 



254 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

invested with the powers ** heretofore held by the gov- 
ernor-general and intendant of the province. ** He said 
\fl the Louisianians : '^The American people receive 
you as brothers. '' March 26, 1804» Congress passed a 
territorial act; but there were complaints from the 
natives who had been brought up under different laws; 
and on January 28» 1805, Congress passed a second and 
better act. April 10, 1812» Louisiana was admitted as 
a Stote.^ 



^ Albert BushneD Hart, in his 'Toundation of American Foreisn PoCcy, ** reviewi 
the various arguments, in Congress and out, on annexation and Statehood. Some 
thought it would be the ruin of America to take so much territory into the Union. 
Imperialism was feared. To the difficulties of immense distance and lack <^ 
cohesion was added the argument that the territory and its inhabitants were 
distinctly undesirable. The sectional argument was used. In fact, the wisdom <^ 
the purchase was questioned by all sorts of malcontents who succeeded in demon- 
strating their own lack of foresight, and the good statesmanship of Jefferson and 
Madison and Monroe. Hart adds: "This was not the first or last time that the 
United States sought a small territory and got a large one. Just as George Rogers 
Clark's capture of two frontier posts gave rise to the occupation of a vast territovy 
between the Mississippi and the mountains, and just as the expedition to Cuba led 
to the annexation of the Philippine Islands, so Monroe and Livingston sought for 
20,000 miles of barren sand and brought home 600,000 miles of empire. '^' 



*» 



CHAPTER Xn 
Monroe in England and Spain 

** Since the conclusion of the business with France,** 
Monroe wrote to Jefferson/ "I have doubted whether 
it would be best for me to remain here till I heard the 
result of the deUberations in the United States on what 
is already done, or proceed directly to Spain to treat 
for the Floridas; and after much reflection have 
decided in favor of the latter opinion. ... I shall set 
out for Spain in a week or ten days, and hope to be back 
in three or four months at most. I leave my family at 
St. Germain in my absence, where my daughter is at 
school. ** 

When the Monroes first went to Paris in 1794, their 
daughter Eliza, then seven, became a pupil of Madame 
Campan at St. Germain. Eliza, who was a well-grown 
girl* when her only sister, Maria, was born, now 
re-entered this celebrated school. 

Madame Campan (born in Paris, October 6, 1762, 
died at Mantes, March 16, 1822) played a part in so 
many historic scenes that a veritable literature has 
grown up about her. One finds scores of books con- 
taining memoires, anecdotes and gossipy references 
on the Campan shelf. She was Jeanne Louise Henriette 
Grenest, or Genet, sister of Edmond Charles Genest, 
who under Louis XVI was chargS d^af aires at St. 
Petersburg, Girondin, minister to the United States 
and subsequently a citizen of New York. She married 
Pierre Bertholet, of the Valley of the Campan, near 
Tarbes, Beam, a comely young soldier who served 
Marie Leckzinska, Queen of Louis XV, as page of the 

» Paris, May 18, 1808, Writings of Monroe, Vol. IV, p. 28. 

* The Children of James Monroe, by Harriet Taylor Upton, Widewake, July, 
1888. Mrs. Upton thinks that Maria was bom in Paris in 180S. If so, Eliza was 
•ixteen years older. See also. Our Early Presidents, their Wives and Children, 
by Mrs. Upton, Boston, 1890. 

t55 



256 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

backstairs. Madame Campan came to court after the 
Queen's death; won the liking of Marie Antoinette, and 
shared with her the sorrows, thrills and ezcrucialing 
experiences of the French Revolution. As first lady of 
the bed-chamber, she knew intimately the gay life and 
final tragedies; so that her ^'Memoirs of the Court of 
Marie Antoinette" is read today. She escaped the 
guillotine, endured persecutions by the Directoire and 
in Napoleonic times found herself at the head of a 
boarding-school of sixty pupils. This was in the 
Hotel de Rohan, at St. Germain, ** a huge place with a 
beautiful garden, situated in the rue de Poissy on the 
edge of the forest." It was called the Seminary of 
Montague de Bon-Air. "Maman" Campan here 
became governess of the Bonapartes — Hortense and 
Emilie de Beauharnais and Pauline and Caroline 
Bonaparte.* We have many references to the Monroes 
in the volume entitled "The Celebrated Madame 
Campan" by Violette M. Montagu. 

" Madam Campan used in her old age to tell an anecdote of how, 
while walking in the beautiful forest of Saint-Germain with 
Mr. Monroe and his little daughter Eliza in those days [in the 
time of the Directory] when France seemed drifting hither and 
thither at the mercy of any stray adventurer with a gift for 
despotism, the future President of the United States remarked: 
* Fortune lies in the gutter; anybody who takes the trouble to bend 
down can pick it up!' He then went on to say what a much finer 
country America was than France, whereupon little Eliza burst 
in with: *Yes, papa, but we haven't any roads like this' — pointing 
to the fine smooth road bordered with magnificent trees along 
whicli they were then walking. 



1 In Deccmbor, 1801, General Claude Perrin Victor. Duke of Bellino (1704-1841), 
who was to have commanded for Napoleon at New Orleans, brought his little daugh- 
ter Victorine to study with Mme. Campan. "Among her fellow pupils/* saj-s 
Violette M. Montagu in "The Celebrated Mme. Campan." **were NcUy Bourjore 
(later maid-of-honor to Stephanie de Beauharnais. when tlie latter became 
grand-<iucliess of Baden); Antoinette de Mackau (later Mme. Wathier de Saint- 
Alph(Hi.se); Eliza Monroe, the daughter of the originator of the celebrated Monroe 
doctrine, a groat friend of Miss Paterson. Jerome Bonaparte's first wife, and one 
of Mme. Campan*s most grateful pupils; Mile. Hervas de Menara, the daughter 
of the rich banker of that name, and at that time *the pretiiest little creature which 
had ever been confided to my care; she is witty, sensible and good natured.' Mile, 
de Menuni married Duroc; (* Ilortense's first love, and perhaps the only man for 
whom llurtense ever really cared').*' 




Madami': Jeaxne Louise Henbiette Genest Campan 

From ( lile-niiod oil painLiiiK. riciMitcH on Napoleon's ordn-, b}- Baron Kran^oii Punt ^( 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 257 

"That's true,' replied Mr. Monroe; *our country may be likened 
to a new house, we lack many things, but we possess the most 
precious of all — liberty!' ** 

In the heyday of Napoleon's regime Madame Campan 
was appointed directress of the Imperial Educational 
Establishment of the Legion of Honor at Ecouen. 
"Be quicker to praise than to blame'* was her Ecouen 
motto. She wrote De V Education. Hortense de Beau- 
hamais married Louis Bonaparte, and became the 
mother of Napoleon III. She was fond of her former 
school friends but "some of them expected her to do 
too much for them; great was Eliza Monroe's disap- 
pointment when she discovered that Hortense could 
not get her an invitation to the balls given by Caroline 
Murat at her chateau at Neuilly, because her sister-in- 
law was a great respecter of etiquette, and, as the sister 
of an Emperor, could not be expected to receive the 
daughter of an honest republican. "^ 

Mrs. Monroe, who thoroughly appreciated the finer 
side of the social, artistic and literary life of Paris, 
making many life-long friends while there, accom- 
panied her husband when he left for another capital. 
This other capital was not Madrid, as he had hoped, 
but London, where his living expenses were so great as 
to cause him to sigh for Virginia. He wrote that, 
whereas he could live well on $2000 a year in Virginia, 
it cost him £2000 in London. His salary was $9000 a 
year, leaving a deficit in his private purse of $1000. 
Even this he could ill afford to spare. Madison be- 
friended Monroe in the matter of money accommoda- 
tions, both at home and abroad.' 



^ In 1814 Mme. Campan fell under the ban of the Bourbons. "All her friends 
rallied around her; foremost among these were M. de Lally-ToIIendal and Eliza 
Monroe's father, both of whom interceded for her with Louis XVIII/' Later, in 
1818. '* Eliza Monroe, now happily married in America to a Mr. Hay and the mother 
of a little daughter baptized Hortense Eugenie after Eliza's two playmates at 
Saint-Germain, did not forget her old governess, and many were the letters which 
she wrote to Mantes, although she found that for some reason or other, they 
frequently miscarried or were intercepted." 

' Madison Correspondence, Bureau of Rolls; see letters from Littleton W. Taze- 
well, Norfolk, on a loan obtained at the bank for Colonel Monroe, p. 669. Madison 
had lent money to Monroe in 1800; p. 535. 



258 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Before beginning his new mission, Monroe, th6ugh 
lacking in health, busied hunself with many matters. 
He saw La Fayette and Kosciusko often. "They are 
the men you always knew them to be," he wrote to 
Jefferson. But one day he was shocked to learn that 
La Fayette, having dislocated his thigh, had suffered 
torture through over-pressure in a leg-and-hip machine 
devised by the famous surgeons, Boyer and Deschamps. 
La Fayette, after that, always walked lame. As for 
Kosciusko, Monroe and Colonel Mercer found that old 
knight of liberty near the barrier of St. Andre. He had 
a garden there and when his visitors greeted him was 
busy carrying his water pots. Monroe saw Houdon, 
too, and sent to Virginia that sculptor's receipt for 
2800 livres — a balance due him on the noble statue of 
Washington now in the rotunda of the Capitol at 
Richmond. While in Paris, Mrs. Monroe sat for a por- 
trait, as she had done during her first visit, in 1794, 
when Seme executed a beautiful miniature of her. 

But why did Monroe go to London, instead of to 
Madrid? He wanted to negotiate for the Floridas. 
Jefferson was eager to acquire them. Livingston was 
of the opinion that West Florida was actually bought 
in with Louisiana, and Monroe adopted this view. 
But the acquisition of the Spanish possessions, 
whatever might be their metes and bounds, could only 
be arranged at Madrid. Mar hois had promised that 
the support of France should be given to the United 
States in treating with the Spanish Government; there- 
fore, on May 19, Monroe applied to Talleyrand for 
reassurance in the matter, prior to his departure for 
Madrid. Here, as told by Monroe himself, in a letter 
to Madison, is a bit about the result of the application: 

"On the Sunday following, three or four days afterwards, I 
dined with the Consul Cambaceres,^ who had been with the 
First Consul in council at St. Cloud, whence he returned late to 
dinner. He said to me soon after entering the room: *You must 



^ Jean Jacques Regis, due de Cambao6res (1753-1824). He was Pk^sident of tht 
Convention in 1794. He was one of Napoleon's Councillors. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 259 

not go to Spain at present/ I asked his reason. He replied: 'It 
is not the time; you had better defer it/ I revived the subject 
repeatedly but he declined going further into it.** 

Monroe again questioned Cambac6res; and, next 
day, sought to penetrate the mystery by interviewing 
Consul le Brun, who had also been in the council at 
St. Cloud; but he could make neither head nor tail 
of an affair that seemed to signify so much. Napoleon, 
of course, had originated the suggestion. Soon, how- 
ever, Monroe's suspense ended. He received letters 
from Madison notifying him that, on April 18, he had 
been commissioned Minister to England, in place of 
Rufus King,^ who had filled that post for nearly seven 
years, and who had asked permission to return to 
New York. Did this explain the mysterious hint of 
Cambaceres? Only partly, perhaps. But a big war 
between France and England was on; and there was 
need of an American minister in London. Monroe at 
once communicated with Chevalier d'Azara, Spanish 
Minister in Paris, and Ambassador Pinckney at Madrid, 
announcing his change of program; and arranged 
to quit Paris. Talleyrand wrote him on the evening 
of Jime twenty-third, inviting him to his house at noon 
the next day for the purpose of visiting St. Cloud, that 
he might take his leave of the First Consul. The 
presentation was at one o'clock. 

"You are about to go to London?" was Napoleon's 
greeting. 

Monroe replied that the resignation of the American 
minister there had made it necessary for him to supply 
the vacancy, adding that he had been instructed to call 
at St. Cloud and give assurance of the greatest respect, 
esteem and friendliness of the United States toward 
the First Consul and France. 

No one, said Napoleon, wished more than he to 
preserve a good understanding. The Louisiana cession 

^ When King went to take leave at St. James, George III asked what he intended 
to do with his boys who were at Harrow. The answer was that they were to finish 
their studies there and then go to Paris. **A11 wrong, Mr. King," commented Uis 
Majesty: **boys should be educated in the country in which th^ live^'V 



260 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

he had made was not so much *' for the price as for the 
policy." He regarded "the President as a virtuous, 
enlightened man, a friend of liberty and equality. '* 

Monroe left Paris, with his family, on July 12 and 
reached London on the eighteenth. He had expressed 
a desire to occupy the house vacated by Minister Eang. 
This we gather, with other data about Monroe, from 
the unfriendly letters of Christopher Gore, Federalist, 
whom Rufus King, Federalist, left as his friend in 
London. The ocean had not washed out their politics. 
Gore was a member of the Commission in London to 
consider claims under the Seventh Article of the 
Treaty between the United States and Great Britain.^ 
At this time King and Monroe were far apart in 
feeling, as compared with their pleasant relations when 
they were together in the Congress of the Confederation. 
In a letter to Jefferson, which he wrote but never sent, 
Richmond, Va., April 30, 1801, Monroe had expressed 
the sentiment of Republicans there with respect to 
Rufus King, to wit: that "our present Envoy at 
London should be withdrawn. ** He continued: 

"They think nothing is done unless that is done; 
that, as every calamity foreign and domestic we have 
experienced from Great Britain, a person known to be 
friendly to her interests, acquainted with our interior, 
able to guide her coimcils and plan her measures against 
us, ought not to be left there, under the present Admin- 
istration. '** 

Doubtless Monroe was expressing his grudge against 
the pro-British Federalists rather than against King 
personally; nevertheless, his strictures were unfair 
and he did well to put the letter aside. It would have 
been better if he had burnt it, just as his own enemies, 
should have done with their letters when they were 
criticising him for his course in France. At London, 
few indeed were the mortals who looked upon American 

^ While Monroe was io London, Gore offended George W. Ervin^ U. S. Consul 
at London, who sent him a challenge to fight a duel. Monroe and William Pinkney, 
Gore's associate on the commission, endeavored to make peace. 

* J. C. Hamilton, in his Life of Alexander Hamilton* Vol. VII, p. 585. 



TEDS LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 261 

affairs as Americans themselves did. Monroe said that 
the great majority of people in England misunderstood 
the people of the United States. On the other hand: 
"Monroe knows little that passes in London," wrote 
Gore, August 24. "He has seen Hawkesbury twice; 
once on his arrival and once on his introduction to the 
King. [August 17.] He has also seen Hammond 
once. . . . He appears to have a sort of creed that it is 
improper to know what is passing in relation to Euro- 
pean Powers, unless the United States are directly 
interested. He will, therefore, have a quiet time in 
England, for you know they do not press their knowl- 
edge, no more than their civility, on any man. " 

Lord Hawkesbury was Robert Banks Jenkinson 
(second Earl of Liverpool, 1770-1828) and the same 
man» who, as Lord Liverpool led the Tory ministry 
during the War of 1812, as well as during Monroe's 
administration, until succeeded by George Canning 
in 1822. So, in seeing his lordship, Monroe was seeing 
a future antagonist who, though not a great statesman, 
had many of the solid qualities and much of the tact 
of his famous forbear. This was old Anthony Jenkinson, 
who, in Shakespeare's day, under privilege of Solyman 
the Great, penetrated the Tartar depths of Asia and 
laid the foundation of the family fortune. 

But in this year of grace 1804, Hawkesbury was 
friendly enough. Whatever may be said of Minister 
King's politics, he had smoothed out debt and boundary 
difficulties; and when Monroe arrived in London there 
was a cordial feeling, and really not much to do. In 
fact he probably understood his own business even 
better than Gore who lost no opportunity of slurring 
the new Minister for the delectation of the old. King, 
too, referred to Monroe, in his answer to Gore. " Monroe 
is authorized to buy the Floridas from Spain or whoever 
is the owner provided he can make the purchase in a 
certain sum in six per cent bonds. " Again he referred to 
" the unsound as well as unwise and impolitic" memorial 
of Livingston to Bonaparte. In the same letter he said : 



262 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

**In regard to Monroe, P. Porcupine will make him 
uneasy and in some degree put him out of good company 
by republishing with conunents an article from his 
unwise and stupid performances. " Nevertheless Gore, 
being in the vein of gossip, could not resist writing to 
King^ of something the rich Philadelphia merchant, 
William Bingham, then in England, had sent from 
Tunbridge Wells to Sir T, B.: "He did not, till he met 
Monroe in Paris, know he was so able and so moderate 
a man." 

In seeking to make themselves agreeable, the 
Monroes suflFered from certain of those British attributes 
so humorously caricatured by Jane Austen in "Lady 
Catharine de Bourg. ** They were snubbed and insulted 
in a most outrageous manner, partly out of aristocratic 
superciliousness of the sort set forth in "Pride and 
Prejudice,'' and partly in retaliation for Jefferson's 
inconsiderate treatment of the new British Minister 
at Washington. Monroe, in a long letter to Madison, 
March 8, tells of his experiences with the lords and 
ladies of the diplomatic circle with whom he and his 
wife dined.* Mrs. Monroe was snubbed quite as often as 
"Elizabeth Bennett." When Mrs. Monroe called, her 
calls were not returned. There seemed to be a studied 
attempt to humiliate the republican Monroes, and, 
strange to say, Gore and King appear to have been 
rather pleased at it. Moreover, when King wrote to 

^ For the King-Gore letters with pin-pricks at Monroe see Life and Corre- 
spondence of Rufus King, Vol. IV. 

' "At the first state dinner to which he was asked, Mr. Monroe found himself 
seated at the foot of the table between two representatives from German princi- 
palities. 'James Monroe doesn't care where he eats his dinner/ he said, 'out to 
find the American Minister put at the bottom of the table between two littJe 
principalities no bigger than my farm in Albemarle made me mad.* So angr>', 
that when the first toast, *The King' was given and all rose to drink it, Mr. Monroe 
in reseating himself ^ut his wine-glass down in the finger-bowl — splashing the 
water. This nuuie his German neighbors exchange sarcastic smiles, and he was 
rapidly ^tting too angry when the Russian Minister, who was at the right hand of 
the presiding Minister of State, rose and ofTered his toast, 'A health and welcome 
to our latest-comer, the President of the United States.' *Thcn I saw clear again,* 
said Mr. Monroe. *And when my country and General Washington had been 
honored, I rose and thanked the Russian Minister, as I offered mine: "The health 
and prosperity of our friend, the Emperor of Russia. '* ' '* Souvenirs of My Time, 
by Jessie Benton Fremont, 1887, p. 9. 




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THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 268 

Gore about the trouble at Washington, Gore was at 
pains to tell his news to Hawkesbury and Hammond 
and the imderlings, who made the Monroes pay for 
Jefferson's incivilities to the very immerry Merrys. 

Anthony Merry, who succeeded Edward Thornton 
as British ambassador, arrived in Washington, Novem- 
ber 4, 1808. Rufus King had chosen Merry in prefer- 
ence to Francis James Jackson, who was said to 
be "positive, vain and intolerant"; and Prime Minister 
Addington, — Henry Addington, later Lord Sidmouth — 
out of complaisance and friendliness, had appointed 
him. Henry Adams says of Merry: "He was a 
thorough Englishman, with a wife more English than 
himself.** Jefferson, who spoke well of Merry, had 
no good word to say of his more aggressive mate. We 
are sorry to add tiiat he called her a virago. Now 
Jefferson felt himself to be the pioneer of official 
democracy. He planned to eliminate all those niceties 
and nonsensical ceremonies of the European Courts 
and to set an example of plain and unconventional 
intercourse such as a Virginia gentleman was used to 
in his daily life at home. Henry Adams in the second 
volume of his "History of the United States/* pages 860- 
388, has a whole chapter concerning Jefferson's " Canons 
of Etiquette to be observed by the Executive,** and 
the troubles that grew out of the new code. Merry, 
a punctilious man and a stickler for precedence, did 
not understand this new principle of pell-mell, or social 
equality, which Jefferson wished to establish. No 
exceptions were to be made in favor of a gentleman like 
himself and ladies like his wife, who took themselves 
much to heart and who sincerely believed that Great 
Britain was by right the first and foremost nation 
on earth. The Merrys were in a bad humor because 
of the inconveniences of life in the crude capital. Merry 
in full uniform, at the appointed hour for his first 
official call, went to the White House, Madison accom- 
panying him. The audience hall was empty, — ^where was 
Jefferson? Merry met him in so narrow an entry that 



264 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

he had to back out m the most undignified manner. 
It did not become the representative of his Britannic 
Majesty to walk backwards on an official occasion. 
And when he was introduced, Merry's eyebrows went 
up. Jefferson was in undress. He wore slippers and 
Connemara stockings, and, to Merry's horror, the 
slippers were heelless ! But this was not the last straw. 
He and his wife dined at the White House. JeflFerson, 
he thought, would take Mrs. Merry into the dining 
room. Instead, he took Mrs. Dolly Madison. Similarly, 
at a dinner at the Madisons, the Merrys were again 
shamed by the odious pell-mell. In fact, the Minister, 
flushing with anger because the Secretary of State had not 
offered Mrs. Merry his arm, took her in himself. Jefferson 
was scandalizing lie British world in his effort to simplify 
and democratize the manners of such of the great as 
happened to be in close contact with his official family. 
Less parade of democracy and pell-mell and the 
exercise of more common sense, not to mention tact, 
might have saved Jefferson and Madison a deal of 
trouble, and, incidentally prevented the discomfiture 
of the Monroes. In one sense the whole affair was 
petty, yet it was by no means inconsequential. Did not 
Pichon write to Talleyrand, Yrujo to Cevallos and 
Merry to Hammond? In the manuscript departments 
of the Spanish, French, and British Archives are 
numerous well-yellowed but piquant letters telling of 
a cloud no larger at first than a tempestuous teapot, out 
of which finally came an international blow. It is 
hardly too much to say that the episode served to 
reawaken in England the feeling of hostility toward 
America and perhaps had something to do with the 
war that broke out a few years later. \Mien Gore dined 
at Hawkesbury 's : "His Lordship took me aside," 
he wrote to King, "and mentioned the unpleasant 
accounts they had received from Washington. . . . 
In this silly business, they probably see here a dis- 
position to affront England, and it will, with others 
increase a growing discontent with us." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE £65 

In a letter to Monroe, January 8, 1804, Jefferson, 
as was his wont, covered many points. He proffered 
him the office of Governor of Louisiana, but at the 
same time told him that he probably would have to go 
to Spain. To him Einckney's continuance at Madrid 
was a continual reproach.^ Monroe might advise him 
to resign. Jefferson spoke of the Merry incident. 
Mrs. Merry, he said, was "absurdly pretentious." 

Madison also wrote. He requested Monroe to bring 
forward the plan of a convention covering impressment, 
blockade and search. 

Monroe in hb reply to Jefferson said that his pro- 
posed service in Louisiana seemed incompatible with 
his convention work in London and his important 
affair with Spain. It would take two months at least 
in London, six in Madrid and two more to get home. 
He was frank to say that he hoped to extricate himself 
speedily from his disagreeable English situation. There- 
upon he unbosomed himself of many details concern- 
ing the incivilities of the British towards himself and 
his wife. Here for example: 

''At Ld. H's table when speaking with his Lady,' who appears 
to me to be an amiable woman, on the subject of our climate, of 
its variety, etc., I mentioned that while the northern parts were 
perhaps in snow the southern enjoyed the bloom of Spring; that 
in Feby at Chariestown they had the course^ and from want of 
other topicks of conversation, I added that on such occasions there 
was always a great concourse of people with gay equipages, etc. 
Ld. Castleray asked me what kind of equipages had they? I oo'd 



1 Pinckney had *'oomproinised*' Madison and "adopted a high tone with Ceval- 
loB." These indiscretions and the awkward situation brouiht about by them 
had caused his recall to be asked for. See Adams, History of the United States, 
Vol. n. Chapter 11, "Quarrel with Yrujo." 

s In "The Journal of Elizabeth, Udy Holland*' (1701-1811), edited by the 
Earl of Ilchester, 2 vols., 1008, we find many references to the oflScial characters of 
the time, including Monroe. She was Elizabeth Vassall of Jamaica. She married 
first Sir Godfrey Webster, then Henry Richard, third Lord HolUnd, nephew of 
Qiarles James Fox. She had separated from Sir G. Webster. She was "the 
domineering leader of the Whig circle"; and "gave orders" to such guests as 
Macaulay and Sydney Smith. Page 200, Vol. II, she says: "Monroe luu had a 
conversation with Ld. II. about Spanish America; he wishes nothing to be attempted 
without a concert with the U. S., the country to be declared independent, and free 
ports to be opened to both coimtries." This shows that even thus early Monroe 
had the germ of the Monroe Doctrine in mind. 



266 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

not be but surprised at the enquiry, nevertheless replied, such as I 
saw here. Sir Wm. Scott then remarked that he had lately read 
an acct. of a grand f^te at the Cape of Good Hope which con- 
cluded with that all 'the beauty, taste and fashion of Africa were 
assembled there/ This occasion'd some mirth, as you will suppose, 
at our expense, in which I could not well partake. '* 

Even an expert in pell-mell could not have been 
ruder than this wit who made a butt of the American 
ambassador. If he had not been such, Monroe might 
well have kicked the great Sir William; as it was, the 
best he could do was to swallow the insult with his soup. 

No wonder the maltreated Americans were homesick 
and unhappy! No wonder Mrs. Monroe thought of 
her friends in Paris, and Eliza sighed for her Hortenses 
and Paulines and Carolines at the Hotel de Rohan! 
As for Monroe, he wrote his imcle^ just as he used to 
write to hun in the days of Trenton, Brandywine and 
Valley Forge. He was gathering up law-books he said; 
they would be of use to him in his practice. Perhaps 
he would accept the governorship of Louisiana after 
all. His wife was suffering from the moist climate. 
The expenses were dreadful. He longed to be home. 

But he went to see Lord Hawkesbury, as Madison 
had directed; and was on the point of proposing a 
convention such as had been outlined in his instructions 
when the Addington government gave way for the 
return of Pitt. It was a stormy time in British politics. 
Lord SheflSeld, champion of the British navigation 
laws, was protesting against their relaxation. "The 
existence of the United States, '' says Adams, Volume II, 
page 410, "was a protest against Lord Sheffield's 
political religion; and therefore in his eyes the United 
States were no better than a nation of criminals, 
capable of betraying their God for pieces of silver. 
The independence of America had shattered the navi- 
gation system of England into fragments, but Lord 
Sheffield clung the more desperately to his broken idol. 
Among the portions that had been saved were the 

^ Monroe to Judge Joseph Jones, May 16. 1804. Gouverneur Mat. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 267 

West Indian colonies. ... To Lord Sheffield these 
islands were only a degree less obnoxious than the 
revolted United States.*' British tonnage was 
decreasing. Stop American neutrals from glutting the 
European market. Coincidently there was a cry 
for younger statesmen and George Canning was heard 
from. Pitt returned to power and Lord Harrowby 
succeeded Hawkesbury as foreign secretary. With 
respect to the Sheffield agitation against American 
neutrals, Monroe, says Adams, "might count on having 
some day to meet whatever mischief the shipping 
interest of Great Britain could cause. No argument 
was needed to prove that the navy would support 
with zeal whatever demands should be made by the 
mercantile marine.** His first meeting with Lord 
Harrowby made a deep impression upon Monroe, as it 
did upon Madison to whom he gave a full account of 
it in a letter dated Jime 3.^ His Lordship was "far 
from being conciliatory.*' The remarks he made were 
"not in tike spirit of amity.** In fact, the British 
foreign secretary was highly displeased with the United 
States. In Monroe's own words: 

**The conduct of Lord Harrowby thro' the whole of this con- 
ference was calculated to wound and irritate. Not a friendly 
sentiment toward the U. States or their govt, escaped him. In 
proposing a postponement of the interests in which we were a 
party, he did not seem to desire my sanction, but to assume a tone 
which supposed his will had settled the point. . . . Everything he 
said was uttered in an unfriendly tone, and much more was 
apparently meant than was said. I was surprised at a deportment 
of which I had seen no example before since I came into the 
country, and which was certainly provoked by no act of mine. . . . 
I now consider those concerns as postponed indefinitely. . . . 
Whether the conduct of Lord Harrowby was produced by any 
change of policy towards us, or by any other cause, transient or 
otherwise, it is utterly out of my power to ascertain at present. 
My most earnest advice, however, is to look to the possibility of 
such a change. " 

"An approaching contact of opposing forces," com- 
ments Ad ams, "always interests men's imaginations. 

I Writing! of Monroe, Vol. IV, pp. 191-109. 



268 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

On one side, Pitt and Harrowby stood meditating the 
details of measures, which they had decided in principle, 
for taking from the United States most of the commercial 
advantages hitherto enjoyed by them; on the other 
side, stood Monroe and Jefferson, equally confident, 
telling the Englishmen that very much greater advan- 
tages must be conceded. That one or the other of these 
forces must very soon give way was evident; and if 
ever an American Minister in London needed to be 
on the alert, with every faculty strained to its utmost, 
the autumn of 1804 was such a moment. Monroe, 
aware of his danger, gave full warning to the President. *' 

Monroe sent Harrowby a draft of Madison's plan. 
Harrowby was too busy to consider it. So he said. 
Monroe then informed his Lordship of his route to 
Spain, through Holland and France. His mission, he 
explained, was "extraordinary and temporary." On 
October 8, 1804, he sailed for Rotterdam, and did 
not return to London until July 23, 1805. No doubt 
he was glad to be on the continent again, and Mrs. 
Monroe was rejoiced to be able to live awhile at 
St. Germain, where Eliza re-entered Madame Campan's 
school. 

We now come to a tale of many diplomats; indeed, 
we enter upon a veritable geographical and diplomatic 
maze. If we follow the Monroe thread we shall be 
able to go in and come out of this labyrinthine history 
without undue bewilderment. 

But let us first fix in mind a few facts as to the 
Atlantic side of the world — the world of Pitt and 
Bonaparte, as well as of Jefferson, now entering upon 
his second term as President. 

Jefferson talked peace and wanted it. If he made a 
threat of war it was for effect, not with an idea of 
actually going to war. He believed in fighting with 
such unexplosive weapons as the embargo. War to 
him was abhorrent, none of his impulses were martial 
or heroic; he was a philosophical manipulator of men; 
and he readily could stoop to politics, for which, like 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 269 

most Virginians, he had a strong inclination. He had 
done so well, up to 1805, as to have high hopes of 
matching his initial successes with a second series — a 
Louisiana with a Florida. He had sent Lewis and 
Clarke as far as the Oregon country. Clearly, it was 
the age of expansion — not only in territory, but in 
the letting out of constitutional garments, that chafed or 
choked or smothered by their strict-construction tight- 
ness. With a little war won against Barbary pirates, 
there was, also, some satisfaction on the sea. But on the 
sea were the British, and they seemed to think it theirs. 
There was something to be said on that score — even 
in their favor; for they were islanders in a titanic 
struggle with Napoleon, who would surely overrun their 
country and make vassals of them if by hook or by 
crook he could break their naval defense and cross the 
Channel. It was, indeed. Napoleon's day on the land, 
and Nelson's on the sea. Bitter as was the blow given 
him at Trafalgar, Napoleon won at Ulm and Austerlitz; 
and, at Jena, he saw himself master of the Continent 
of Europe. Jefferson's plans were to be frustrated 
throughout his second term by the grim struggle for 
supremacy between the warring nations. They reached 
and jarred the Wliite House like successive seismic 
shocks. In following Monroe, we will do well to keep 
in mind this jarring of the earth and the lurid Napole- 
onic backgroimd. 

As we have seen, it was Napoleon who had diverted 
Monroe from Madrid to London. He did it because 
he felt that he had already goaded Don Manuel Godoy 
and Don Pedro de Cevallos as much as they would 
stand. Even the hornless Spanish bull would turn. 
Their Louisiana anger must be given time to cool. 

Now Napoleon had told his New Orleans prefect, 
Laussat, that Louisiana extended on the west to Rio 
Brava, or Rio Grande del Norte. Texas, therefore, 
must have been transferred with Louisiana to the 
United States. But neither Napoleon nor Talleyrand, 
when appealed to by Monroe and Livingston with 



270 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

respect to delimitations, had intimated the existence of 
any such western boimdary — so few Americans 
thought of Texas as a part of the purchase. It is true 
that in a letter from Jefferson to John Dickinson, 
August 9, 1803, mention was made of the Rio Brava 
on the west and the Rio Perdido on the east as possible 
demarcations. There were "some pretentions" with 
respect to the Texas region, and greater ones to the 
Mobile country — the West Florida strip along the 
Gulf. 

Now as to East Florida, it was Spain's; no one ques- 
tioned that fact; but the greatest confusion existed in 
regard to West Florida. And no wonder. "Explora- 
tion, occupancy, conquest, treaty and revolt," says 
Henry E. Chambers, "have caused the region in ques- 
tion to change ownership and jurisdiction no less than 
six times. Perhaps this can be said of no other portion 
of American soil."^ There were three separate and 
distinct West Floridas; British West Florida, Spanish 
West Florida and the Independent State of West 
Florida. Spain owned Florida from the time of Ponce 
de Leon, 1512, and Fernando de Soto, 1539, until she 
traded it with Great Britain for Cuba. This was in 
1736. There were a few French families along the 
coast. After the French and Indian War, France gave 
up Louisiana to Spain and East Louisiana to England. 
So after February 10, 1763, Great Britain owned 
the Floridas from the Mississippi to the Atlantic; 
but not the Island of New Orleans.* The British were 
active in West Florida. Big land grants were given to 
veterans. They took in fertile Yazoo lands; and, when 
John Elliot succeeded Captain George Johnstone as 
Governor (1767), the northern boimdary was set down 
as on the line thirty-two degrees, twenty-eight minutes, 
instead of thirty-one degrees, the Une familiar to us as 

^ West Florida and its relation to the Historical Cartography of the United 
States, by Henry E. Chambers; Johns Hopkins University Studies, Series XVI, 
No. 5, 1898, pp. 1-59. 

^ It was on the east bank of the Mississippi from the Gulf to Bayou Manchac, 
or Iberville River, which has been filled up and exists only as a name. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 271 

the present north bound of Florida and that portion 
of the present State of Louisiana which touches the 
State of Mississippi. Thus the British shouldered them- 
selves up to the vicinity of the Vicksburg parallel, 
whereas they should have held back some thirty miles 
below the Natchez parallel. This British extension of 
West Florida caused confusion in the minds of states- 
men and historians. Peter Chester (1770) was the last 
British Governor. In 1783, Great Britain retroceded to 
Spain the two provinces of East and West Florida. In 
the definitive treaty of that year with the United 
States, there was a secret clause under which the 
boundary was put back to thirty-one degrees. Spain 
resented this as an Anglo-American subterfuge; but in 
the treaty of Madrid, October 27, 1795, accepted the 
line below Natchez. As to the third West Florida, the 
Independent State, so called, that was not organized 
until September 26, 1810, long after the period with 
which we are dealing.^ 

Livingston insisted that West Florida was actually 
included in the purchase of 1803.* Monroe, too, 
believed West Florida to be "comprised in the cession. " 
Jefferson came to this view; so did Madison. Finally, 
in 1804, Congress passed the Mobile Act, declaring 
the Mobile coimtry to be a collection, or customs 
district, with Fort Stoddert as its port of entry. 
This enactment angered Yrujo as nothing else had 
done. He "overwhelmed Madison with reproaches." 
General Louis Marie Turreau, the full-fledged French 
minister who had got out of France to escape his 
enemies and especially his wife* tried without avail to 
make peace between Yrujo and Madison. Yrujo's 
day in Washington was done. He was recalled. Mean- 

^With Monroe's fonner Paris friend Fulwar Skipwith, late of the Consular 
service as Governor. 

' Without warrant, according to H. E. Chambers in "The Madison-Livingston 
Theory of West Florida Acquirement" (Part II of West Florida, in Johns Hopkins 
University Studies). Accompanying this monograph is a chronology of the 
Floridas and a bibliography of the subject. 

* She followed him, however, with the result that the Turreau ooiyugal quarreb 
scmndaliged Washington. 



272 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

time there was trouble for Madison in Madrid. He 
"complained to the President," says Adams, ^ "that 
his Minister at Madrid teased the Spanish Government 
on the subject of Florida, which he had been ordered 
not to touch without the presence or the advice of 
Monroe.** Moreover, "Livingston at Paris, equally 
restive under the imposed authority of Monroe, could 
not resist the temptation to stimulate Pinckney and 
offer advice to both France and Spain. " Now a Spanish 
claim convention, negotiated by Pinckney, having 
been ratified by the United States Senate, was returned 
to him so that he might secure due ratification by Don 
Pedro Cevallos. Don Pedro "made difficulties**; and, 
when Yrujo sent him the Mobile Act, declared that 
if it were not revoked he would not ratify the conven- 
tion. At once Pinckney took a violent tone. Pierre de 
Ruel Beumonville, the French Minister at Madrid, 
wrote to Talleyrand that "Pinckney had terrified 
the secretary beyond reason,** "he positively threatens 
war.** When Madison heard of Pinckney*s conduct, 
he recalled him, and "wrote to Monroe ordering him 
in haste to Spain.** "Madison,** adds Adams, "unde- 
terred by Pinckney*s disaster, still persisted in advising 
him to place his main reliance, ^in a skilful appeal to 
the fears of Spain.**** Livingston was also recalled; 
and, shortly after Monroe's arrival in Paris, General 
John Armstrong, the new American Ambassador to 
France, reached that capital. "Thus it happened,** 
says Adams, "that three American Ministers — 
Monroe, Livingston and Armstrong — met at Paris 
in November, 1804, to cope with Talleyrand, in whose 
hands lay the decision of Jefferson's quarrel with Spain : 
Cevallos looked to him for help; and so did Monroe 
who had been instructed to offer $2,000,000 for Florida 
east of the Perdido. As for West Florida, Spanish 
acknowledgment of American right to it was to be sine 



1 H. Adams, History of the United SUtea» Chapter XII, "Pinckney'fDipkmiAcy/' 
Vol. II, pp. 264-287. 

s Madison to Monroe, November 9* 1804. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 27S 

qua rum; and nothing was to be paid for it. Napoleon, 
whom the Monroes saw crowned at St. Cloud, was 
full of business; but by Livingston's hand, Monroe 
sent a long letter to Talieyrand, asking the Emperor's 
good oflSces with Spain. It was a well-worded letter, 
full of courtesy, but it is said to have irritated Napoleon. 
Marbois gave Monroe a hint that money might help 
him to win what he wanted. "Spain must cede terri- 
tory,'' said another of Napoleon's men, M. Hauterive; 
"the United States must pay money." Armstrong sub- 
quently wrote to Madison to that effect. It explained, 
he said : " the marked incivility with which Mr. Monroe 
was treated by Talleyrand." 

Just before leaving Paris, Monroe made an effort to 
see Talleyrand personally. He went alone to Talley- 
rand's house. Carriages stood in line in front of it. 
As it happened, Talleyrand was giving a reception 
in honor of the Ambassadors. With marked civility, 
the Cerberus at the door offered to go see the Prince 
in behalf of the unexpected guest; but Monroe, diffident 
as he was, hesitated; and finally went away. 

The outlook for friendly aid from the hand of power 
— a hand that seemed to itch, as it had done in X Y Z 
days — was indeed dubious. Venality ruled. "With 
Napoleon in this frame of mind," says Adams, "with 
Godoy and Cevallos in a humor far worse, and with 
Talleyrand in such a temper as not to allow his treating 
Monroe with civility, the American Ambassador 
departed to Madrid, hoping that something might 
occur ^to overcome his difficulties. During his journey 
Charles IV declared war against England. " 

As for Talleyrand's report on Monroe's letter it 
was dated November 19, and "lay some weeks in the 
Emperor's hands." Monroe left Paris for Madrid 
December 8, and still no answer had been sent to his 
note. He wrote from Bordeaux, December 16, a long 
and interesting letter to Madison, and resumed his 
journey. He could hardly have crossed the Bidassoa 
when Armstrong received from Talleyrand, December 



274 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

21, "the long expected answer which, by declaring the 
claim to West Florida emphatically unfounded, struck 
the ground from under his feet and left him to repent 
at leisure his defiance of TaDeyrand's advice. *' 

Monroe wrote to Jefferson and Madison in friendly 
fashion concerning the difficulties and dangers of travel- 
ing in Spain. A man was not unlikely to be beset as 
well as upset. He had been seven days between Paris 
and Bordeaux and had sent forward to Bayonne for 
mules to take him to Don Quixote's country. "With 
a relay of mules, ** he wrote to Madison,^ " the journey 
may be made without halting, as I presume a moment, 
in five or six days. With the same set it requires twelve 
or fifteen." He traveled through a beautiful part of 
France and through the passes of the Pyrenees. Accord- 
ing to Alexander de Laborde,* a friend of his, who 
wanted to hire a servant and who asked for credentials, 
was rather astonished when the man brought him 
"authentic documents of nobility from King Ordonius 
II.** Thanks to his mules, Monroe was soon in the 
elevated region of the Castiles. He would spend part 
of the time at Aranjuez, the royal resort, seven leagues 
to the south of Madrid, as that other famous treaty 
town, St. Idlefonso, was fifteen leagues to the north. 
Aranjuez, watered by the Tagus, was in a verdant 
valley of tall trees and rippling brooks — all the more 
beautiful because in contrast with the naked plain to 
the north of it. At the time of Monroe's visit, it was 
alike famous for its gardens, avenues, cascades and 
numberless fine fountains. Originally a royal himting- 
lodge, it was laid out like a Dutch town and became 
the favorite play place of the Court of Spain. The 
palace, designed by Herrera, was built of brick and 
white marble, and looked like a great castle. 

It was the day after New Year's, 1805, when Monroe 
rode into Madrid. Pinckney was apprehensive lest he 



» Letter-Book, Library of Confess. 

^ A View of Spain, 1809. Vol. I, p. 51 (introduction). The experienoe was that 
of Count de Froberg. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 275 

should be barred by Monroe from the new negotiations, 
but the fear was groundless; the two Americans worked 
together, and, on January 28, addressed Cevallos^ in a 
joint note. Accompanying the note was a projH. 
What did Monroe propose? That Spain should hand 
over the Floridas and as much of Texas as lay east of 
the Rio Colorado; that she should create a claims 
commission to pass upon French and Spanish spolia- 
tions, as well as upon losses due to the closing of the 
entrepot at New Orleans; and that she should seal all 
this in solemn treaty. Cevallos agreed to take up 
matters point by point. Monroe replied, January 31, 
that the whole subject must be dealt with, or else 
nothing. Adams calls it his ultimatum. If so, it was an 
honest one. Cevallos took up the Mobile Act, agreeing 
to withdraw the demand for its repeal. Monroe sug- 
gested that they take up the boundaries. Cevallos came 
back with a note on the French spoUation claims, which 
Napoleon had said, through Talleyrand, July 27, 1804, 
were imdiscussable ; and on the harm done by Intendant 
Morales in suspending the deposit of American goods 
at New Orleans. "As for this,*' said Cevallos, "it was 
nil. " Thus the diplomatic duel proceeded day by day 
— a keen combat in which Cevallos, backed by the 
masterful Godoy,* handled his weapons with all the 
skill of an accomplished disputant. Monroe, in a 
strange capital, with two other capitals — Washington 
and Paris — constantly in mind, was at manifest dis- 
advantage. Another drawback: he had taken up 
Pinckney's lost battle. But he, too, handled himself 
like a supple duelist, a clever dialectician. On the sub- 
ject of Morales, he was not to make any ado; as to 
Napoleon's inhibition with respect to the spoliation 
claims, he got over that diflBculty with much grace not 
untinctured with the flattering, if ironical, intimation 
that Spain and the United States, being independent 

^ Pedro de Caballos y Guerra was bom in 1764. He served Fernando VII as 
well as Carlos VIL retired in 1820 and died in 1840. 

' Godoy began life as a private in the Royal Guards. A book about him it 
'"The Queen's Favorite," by Edmund B. D'Auvergne. 



276 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

nations, were at liberty to think for themselves. 
"Every nation/' he said, "is the guardian of its own 
honor and rights; and the Emperor is too sensible of 
what is due to his own glory, and entertains too high a 
respect for the United States, to wish them to abandon 
a just sense of what is due their own. " But Cevallos 
could or would not discuss the claims. There was a 
cessation of sword-play. Monroe felt the shadow of 
Talleyrand as perceptibly in Madrid as in Paris. In a 
letter to Armstrong, March 1, Monroe wrote: "She 
(France) must clearly understand that the negotiation 
is about to break up without doing anything, and that 
the failure is entirely owing to the part taken against 
us." There were reasons, and good ones too, why 
France should not quarrel with America. He was 
inclined to think that "a rupture with us is an event 
which of all others, she least seeks at the present time. " 
These passages show that Monroe knew the men he 
was fighting — not Cevallos and Godoy merely, but 
Talleyrand and Napoleon. Since, with his long arm 
reaching all the way from Paris, Talleyrand was holding 
him down, he would rap his knuckles as best he could. 
It was a timely and justifiable threat; and, having 
made it, he waited. Armstrong replied, March 12 and 
18, that those in power had declared "that our claim, 
having nothing of solidity in it, must be abandoned. " 
"To the question *What would be the course of this 
government in case of rupture between us and Spain?' 
they answered : ' We can neither doubt nor hesitate — 
we must take part with Spain; and our note of the 
thirtieth Frimaire was intended to communicate and 
impress this idea.*"^ Meantime March passed. 
West Florida was the theme for a while, and then 
Cevallos brought up the western boundary of the ceded 
region. Talleyrand had put it in his head that the true 
line of demarcation should be between the French and 
Spanish settlements. So the subtle old diplomat had 

^ This was Talleyrand's letter of December 21, 1804. Monroe*! diary at Aran- 
jues, March 16, 1805; Monroe Mss. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE «77 

served Spain again. When Monroe talked of the Rio 
Colorado, Cevallos talked of a line — the Sabine line — 
that would cut off a segment of what is now the State 
of Louisiana. Although as early as April 9, Monroe 
notified Cevallos that the negotiation was "essentially 
terminated, " it was prolonged until May 12 when the 
American ultimatum was sent. May 15 Cevallos 
replied. May 18 Monroe wrote for his passports. 
Taking leave of Cevallos next day, Monroe, with no 
treaty in his portmanteau, quit Madrid, May 26, for 
Paris and London. Pinckney lingered until October, 
when George W. Erving was transferred from the 
London Consulate as Charge d* Affaires in Spain. As 
Adams has it,^ when Erving called on Godoy to protest 
against the seizure of American ships, the Prince of 
Peace received him with good-natured courtesy: " *How 
go our affairs?' he asked; *are we to have peace or 
war? ' Erving called his attention to the late seizures. 
The Prince replied that it was impossible to allow 
American vessels to carry English property. *But we 
have a treaty which secures us that right,* replied 
Erving. ^Certainly, I know you have a treaty for I 
made it with Mr. Pinckney' .... Then he continued, 
with laughable coolness: *You may choose either 
peace or war. 'Tis the same thing with me ! I will tell 
you candidly that, if you go to war this certainly is the 
moment, and you will take our possessions from us. 
I advise you to go to war now, if you think that is best 
for you; and then the peace which will be made in 
Europe will leave us two at war.* Defiance could go 
no further. Elsewhere the Prince openly said that the 
United States had brought things to such a point as to 
leave Spain indifferent to the consequences. In the 
war the President could only seize Florida; and Florida 
was the price he asked for remaining at peace." 

But Godoy would not always be so confident, so 
daring. One is strangely impressed with this Spanish 
Talleyran d — cunning, corrupt, profligate, reputed 

1 H. Adams. EBitoiy of the United SUtei. Vol. m, pp. 87, 88. 



278 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

father of the Queen's children. The day of reckoning 
would come for him, for the vicious and criminal 
Queen, for the dehided King and for the unspeakable 
Prince Ferdinand who, instigated by Napoleon, in- 
trigued for his alleged father's crown. At the palace 
in Aranjuez, March 8, 1808, perished the old monarchy. 
Godoy fled; Don Carlos placed the crown on the head 
of the Prince of the Asturias; and, by and by, that 
unworthy one gave way to Joseph Bonaparte. So 
there was a reason why Talleyrand and Napoleon 
wished the Floridas to remain a Spanish possession. 
But, anon Wellington took a hand, and the Bourbons 
were restored. But the Spanish empire had gone to 
pieces; and its South American dependencies became 
sister republics of that elder republic which by and 
by would publish to the world a great doctrine with 
respect to them. 

When Monroe reached Paris, Napoleon was in Italy, 
where, at Milan, May 26, he received the iron crown 
of Lombardy. Talleyrand was with Napoleon. Monroe 
and Armstrong conferred. Armstrong suggested a 
change of plan. It was to occupy Texas. West Florida 
was to be let alone. "A stroke of this kind,'* said 
Armstrong, "would at once bring Spain to reason, and 
France to her rescue, and without giving either room 
to quarrel." "Armstrong," says Adams, "saw the 
weak point of Napoleon's position, and wished to 
attack it. He had no trouble in bringing Monroe to the 
same conclusion, although in yielding to his arguments, 
Monroe tacitly abandoned the ground he had been 
persuaded by Livingston to take two years before — 
that West Florida belonged to Louisiana." 

Monroe was in Paris from June 20 to July 17, when 
he left for London by way of Antwerp. "During a 
century of American diplomatic history," says Henry 
Adams, "a minister of the United States has seldom 
if ever within six months suffered, at two great courts, 
such contemptuous treatment as had fallen to Monroe's 
lot. That he should have been mortified and anxious 



THE LIFB OF JAMES MONROE 879 

for escape was natural. He returned to England, 
meaning to sail as quickly as possible/* The date of 
Monroe's arrival in London was July 23. He wrote 
to Madison that he hoped to leave for home by the 
first of November; and to Jefferson he confessed that, 
but for the recent seizure of American ships, he would 
no longer have remained. One of his daughters — 
Eliza, no doubt — was ill; and by the advice of a 
physician, he took her to Cheltenham. At that resort 
were mineral springs of some celebrity, the waters 
being "compounded of sulphur and steel." Mrs. 
Monroe was ailing too. She had suffered from rheuma- 
tism ever since the ffite of the coronation at Paris. 
"I leave Mr. Purviance in town," he added, "and 
shall keep an apartment to which I shall repair occa- 
sionally." Purviance was to notify him whenever he 
should be needed. He was even willing to risk a winter 
voyage rather than linger in impromising and inhospit- 
able England. Had he known of the extreme illness 
of his much loved uncle, Judge Jones^ (born in 1727) 
who died at Fredericksburg, Va., October 28, he would 
have been all the more anxious to reach home. 

Monroe's English letters at this period are to Jefferson 
Madison, Armstrong, John Randolph and others, and 
usually bear the London date. One is to Charles James 
Fox. A letter to Madison, February 2, 1806 shows 
Monroe in an unusual light — that of a critic of his 
political assailants. His protests against misrepresen- 
tation were due to an accoimt he had read of a New 
York f6te in honor of Livingston, at which Morris and 
King were present. Monroe discloses considerable 
irritation, if not a wee bit of spleen — most imusual 
with him — in this letter. His opinion of the diplomatic 
services of the three ex-ambassadors could not have 
been high. 



^ In a later letter Monroe expressed bimself most affectionately about Judge 
Jones. "He held the place and was always regarded by my family as a parent." 
A son of Judge Jones went abroad with the Monroes. Monroe had under his 
care St. George, a deaf and dumb nephew of John Bandol{^ of Boanoke. He 
placed the youth with Braidwood* an instructor. 



280 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

In a letter to Madison, October 18, Monroe said: 

^'I have no doubt that the seizure of our vessels was a ddiberate 
act of this Government. . . . On a review of the conduct cS the 
Government towards the United States, from the commencement 
of the war, I am inclined to think that the delay which has been 
so studiously sought in all these concerns is the part of a j^stem, 
and that it is intended, as circumstances favor, to subject our 
commerce at present and hereafter to every i^traint in their 
power. It is certain that the greatest jealousy is entertained of 
our present and increasing prosperity, and I am satisfied that 
nothing which is likely to succeed, will be left untried to impair it."^ 

Henry Adams declares* that Pitt had made good 
use of Monroe's absence in Spain to strengthen the 
British merchant marine. But would not Pitt have 
done the like if Monroe had remained in London? 
It did not seem to make a great deal of difference to 
the British what they said or did with respect to 
America at that time. It was an age when only frigates 
counted. Pitt was for England — he was working 
himself to death for England. Sir William Scott who 
could insult America's ambassador at a dinner party 
as flippantly as he could condemn batches of American 
vessels in his Admiralty Court was for England, first, 
last and all the time. British arrogance had been 
intensified by Bonaparte's violence, which Canning 
was willing to equal if not surpass. Adams is hardly 
just to Monroe in expecting him to succeed among 
venal intriguers on the Continent, and then among the 
war-hardened Tories of London who knew very well 
that Thomas Jefferson was as much enamored of 
peace as the veriest Quaker since the days of G^rge 
Fox. Nor does Adams's harsh criticism of Monroe tally 
with his subsequent suggestion that Jefferson and 
Madison had set an impossible task for Monroe with 
the purpose of eliminating him as a coming presidential 



» Writings of Monroe. Vol. IV, pp. 803-495. Writings of Monroe, Vol. IV, p. 361. 

• H. Adams, Hiatorv of the United Stetes, Vol. m, p. 48, e( 96q, Adams devotes 
three chapters to Monroe in this volume: "Monroe's Diplomacy*'* PP* 22-56> 
"Monroe's Treaty," pp. 892-412; and "Bejection U Monroe's Treaty* pp. 418- 
44a 



,TH£ LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 281 

candidate. And when Pitt "died of old age at forty- 
six," being succeeded by the Grenville Ministry, with 
Charles James Fox, ever friendly to America, as 
Foreign Secretary,^ why did Madison hasten to send 
William Pinkney of Maryland as Monroe's associate? 
Did it not seem as though, fair weather having come 
at last, Madison feared lest Monroe might make a 
good treaty after all? Was it not the politic thing to 
thrust in a colleague to share in whatever honors might 
be forthcoming? News of Pinkney *s appointment to 
work jointly with him in negotiating a new treaty 
reached Monroe, May 31, 1806. The object of the 
treaty was the restoration of trade with the West 
Indies and the indemnification of vessel-owners for 
losses by decisions of Admiralty Courts. Great Britain 
was to be asked to abandon impressment. Monroe 
had been sent to aid Livingston in Paris and Charles 
Pinckney in Madrid; so he could not consistently 
object to that turn of fortime whereby he, too, was 
thus yoked to another. Nevertheless, "the blow to 
Monroe's pride was great, and shook his faith in the 
friendship of JeflFerson and Madison. . . . The nomi- 
nation of a colleague warned him that he had lost 
influence at home, and that JeflFerson, however well- 
disposed, no longer depended on him. . . . Monroe 
was well informed of the eflForts made to raise or 
depress his own fortimes at Washington and could 
see how easily his rival, the Secretary of State, might 
play a double part. Nothing could be simpler than 
such tactics. Madison had only to impose on Monroe 
the task of negotiating a treaty under impossible con- 
ditions. If the treaty should fail, the blame would 
fall upon Monroe ; if it should succeed, the credit would 
be with Pinkney. No one would suppose that Madison 
would make any great eflFort to secure the success of a 
negotiatio n when success might make the negotiator 

^ After his first interview with him Monroe wrote of Fox as one "who in half an 
hour put me more at my ease than I ever felt with any person in office since I 
have been in England.* — Monroe to Madison, February 1£; 1806; Mas. State 
Department Archive!. 



282 THE LIFE OF JAMBS MONROE 

the next President of the United States. • • • Monroe 
could not doubt the President's coldness toward the 
treaty; he could not fail to see that the Secretary's 
personal wishes were rather against than for it; and 
when he studied the instructions he could not but 
admit that they were framed, if not with the intention, 
at all events with the effect, of making a treaty impos- 
sible. No harder task could well have been imposed 
than was laid upon Monroe."^ Jefferson's claim was 
that concessions would be made either by England 
or France, as the case might be, under the fear that 
America, which could equip "fifty Frigates," would 
otherwise join the other side. Moreover, "we begin 
to broach the idea that we consider the whole Gulf 
Stream as of our waters." So Jefferson wrote, forgetful 
of the fact that the British had outraged us at the 
very gateway of New York. If fiifty frigates had 
thundered within earshot of Gravesend, instead of 
in the Quaker-like President's letter, they would have 
impressed Monroe and the British negotiators in a 
very different degree. These negotiators were Fox's 
alternates, Lord Holland and Lord Auckland. But 
Fox, ill of dropsy, unfortunately, died September 13; 
and Lord Howick (Charles Grey, later Earl Grey) 
became Foreign Secretary. Monroe and Pinkney knew 
exactly what they now had to face. They put their 
instructions and Jefferson's fifty paper frigates, behind 
them; and negotiated a treaty to which they affixed 
their signatures December 31, 1806 — a treaty, says 
Adams, with unction, "remarkable for combining in 
one instrument every quality to which Jefferson held 
most strenuous objection." Impressments were set 
aside; no indemnities were obtained for American 
losses in 1805; and, in regard to the colonial trade. 



^ Adams, History of the United States, Vol. m, pp. 400, 408, 408. Adams 
says, truly: '*If America wanted such concessions she must fight for them, as other 
nations had done since mankind existed. England, France and Spain had for 
centuries paid for their power with their blood, and could see no sufficient reason 
why America should take their hard-won privilegw without a challenge. Jetfenon 
thought otherwise." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 288 

"a compromise was invented which no self-respecting 
government would admit.*'^ News that a treaty had 
been made by Monroe and Pinkney reached Washing- 
ton on March 8, 1807. David Montague Erskine who 
had succeeded Anthony Merry as British Minister 
went at once to Madison, who asked him **what had 
been determined on the point of impressment of 
seamen." When Madison learned that nothing had 
been done he "expressed the greatest astonishment and 
disappointment.'* That night a joint committee of 
Congress waited on the President and asked him 
whether the Senate would be called upon to consider 
the treaty; "certainly not/' said JeflFerson. General 
Samuel Smith wrote to Wilson Cary Nicholas that the 
President was angry about the treaty; that he meant 
to send it back for revision. Smith added: "Will not 
M. and P. both conceive themselves insulted, and 
return to make war on the administration?" Again 
Smith wrote: "What a responsibility he [JeflFerson] 
takes! By sending it back he disgraces his Ministers 
and Monroe is one.'* He wanted to know what people 
would say: "Jealousy of Monroe and unreasonable 
antipathy by JeflFerson and Madison to Great Britain! 
— this will be said, this will be believed. And Monroe 
will be brought forward, new parties will arise and 
those adverse politically will be brought together by 
interest. . . . Monroe will be called a martyr, and 
the martyr will be President. And why? Because he 
has done right, and his opponent has advised wrong. "^ 
"To Monroe," says Adams, "the President wrote 
with the utmost forbearance and kindness. Instead of 
reproaching, JeflFerson soothed the irritation of his old 
friend, contradicted newspaper reports which were 
calculated to wound Monroe's feelings, and pressed 

^ For tlie Britiflh view of the treaty and Lord Howick*8 retaliatory Order in 
Council, January 7, 1807, see H. Aduns, Vol. Wi. Clu^>ter XVm; "American 
Bute Papers," Vol. HI, pp. 15S, IfiS, 267; Cobbett's Debates, Vol. VIII, p. 632 M 
9eq. Edinburgh Review, Vol. XX IT, p. 485 and T. P. Courtney's Additional Obscurva- 
tions on the American Treaty, p. 89. 

' S. Smith to W. C. Nicholas, March 4, 1807; Nicholas Mss. as quoted in 
Adams. History of the United SUtes, Vol. Ill, pp. 481, 482. 



2S4 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

upon him the government of New Orleans Territory." 
Jefferson remmded Monroe^ that it was ^*the second 
office in the United States in importance." **I am still 
in hopes you will accept it," said he; **it is impossible 
to let you stay at home while the public has so much 
need of talents." On May 20, Madison sent further 
instructions to Monroe and Pinkney. But just then 
the 38-gun frigate "Chesapeake," Conunodore Barron, 
bound as a relief ship to Barbary waters was made to 
heave to off the Virginia capes and, after a trumpet 
parley, raked by the British two-decker "Leopard," 
50 guns. Three Americans were killed; eighteen 
wounded. The "Leopard" was after three deserters 
from the British "Melampus." There was a profound 
sensation and, of course, no more treaty-making for a 
long while. 

Let us now take Monroe's own testimony as to his 
work in England. 

''The failure of our business with Spain and the knowledge of 
the renewal of the negotiation and the manner of it, which were 
known to every one, were sensibly felt in our concerns with 
England. She was not willing to yield any portion of what she 
called her maritime rights, under the light pressure of the non- 
importation law, to a power which had no maritime force, nor 
even sufficient to protect any one of its ports against a small 
squadron, and which had so recently submitted to great injuries 
and indignities from Powers that had not a single ship at sea. 
Under such circumstances, it seemed to me highly for the interest 
of our country and to the credit of our government to get out of the 
general scrape on the best terms we could, and with that view to 
accommodate our diflferences with the great maritime Power on 
what might be called fair and reasonable conditions, if such could 
be obtained. I had been slighted, as I thought, by the Adminis- 
tration in getting no answers to my letters for an unusual term, and 
in being subjected to a special mission, notwithstanding my remon- 
strance against it on thorough conviction of its inutmty, and by 
other acts which I could not but feel, yet believing that my service 
in England would be useful there, and by means thereof give aid to 
the Administration and to the Republican cause at home, I 
resolved to stay, and did stay for those purposes. The treaty 
was an hon orable and advantageous adjustment with EngWd. 

} Jefferson to Monroe, March 21, 1807; Jefferson's Works (Foid), VoL V, p. U. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 285 

I adopted it in the firm belief that it was so, and nothing has since 
occurred to change that opinion."^ 

This clear and manifestly sincere statement of 
Monroe's diflBculties, motives and accomplishments 
might well have been weighed more trustingly by 
Henry Adams, who reads into the character of the 
negotiator traits that do not belong there. When he 
says that Monroe "was often called a very dull man" 
and adds that "people suspected him of thinking more 
of the Federalist vote than he did of Madison's political 
promotion/' he makes him a dullard and a sharper in 
the same contradictory sentence. He was neither. 
In New England once, somebody asked Monroe a 
question upon his arrival at a town, after many hours 
of fatiguing travel and because the poor man, weary 
with many receptions and much hand-shaking, took 
his tune in answermg it, started a story that he was 
"dull." This anecdote went the rounds of the Federalist 
papers and finally got into the phrase-book of the 
historical writers. That probably explains its use by a 
grandson who migjit have profitably read his grand- 
father's "Monroe."* Henry Adams's documents relating 
to Monroe are of the greatest value and so are his 
facts about him; but some of his conclusions are open 
to question. 

Monroe never worked harder or with more ability 
than when in Spain seeking the acquisition of the 
Floridas or in England endeavoring to insure future 
peace. He was clear and forceful in logic and language. 
He let nothing drag. He preserved the amenities, so 
that no Don of Castile could question his courtesy. 
In a word, Monroe was at his best during these years 
of negotiation. He failed in Spain and his British 
treaty was pigeon-holed by the President. But in each 
case conditions were against him. Only by the lavish 
use of bri bes could the Floridas have been acquired at 

* Monroe to G)loiiel John Taylor of Carolin«, September 10, 1810. Monroe 
Mas. Stute Department Archives. 

* See eloquent estimate of Monroe's work in England and Spain by John Quincy 
Adams; EiUogy, pp. 257-268. 



286 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

that time; and Monroe was both dean-minded and 
clean-handed. As for the British treaty, it was the 
half -loaf or nothing. But, by a strange twist, some of 
those who warmly defend Jay as coldly criticise Monroe. 
Here is how Monroe impressed Lord Holland:^ 



''We found the two American Commissioners fair, emlidt, 
frank and intelligent. Mr. Monroe (afterwards President was 
a sincere Republican, who, during the Revolution in France had 
imbibed a strong predilection for that country, and no slight 
aversion to this. But he had candor and principle. A nearer view 
of the consular and imperial government of France, and of our 
Constitution in England converted him from both these opinions. 
'I find,' said he to me 'your monarchy more republican than mon- 
archical, and the French republic infinitely more monarchial than 
your monarchy.* He was plain in his manners and somewhat slow 
in his apprehension; but he was a diligent, earnest, aensiUe, and 
even profound man. 

His colleague, who had been partly educated in England and 
was a lawyer by profession, had more forms and readiness of 
business, and greater knowledge and cultivation of mind; but 
perhaps his opinions were neither so firmly rooted nor so deeply 
considered as those of Mr. Monroe. Throughout our negotiation, 
they were conciliatory, both in form and in substance." With 
regard to the putting aside of impressment. Lord HoUand says: 
"Upon this omission, and upon other more frivolous pretexts, but 
with the real purpose and effect of defeating Mr. Monroe's views 
on the presidentship, Mr. Jefferson refused to ratify a treaty which 
would have secured his countrymen from all further vexations 
and prevented a war between two nations, whose habits, language, 
and interests should unite them in perpetual alliance and good- 
fellowship. " 

Lord Holland's excellent pen-picture of Monroe may 
be supplemented by another view of him as he appeared 
while in England. William Dillwyn^ wrote under date 
of Higham Lodge, third month, tenth, 1806, to Samuel 
Emlen, West Hill, near Burlington, West New Jersey: 

"Monroe, the American Ambassador, having taken a good house 
at Leyton adjoining this parish for his temporary accommodation, 
I paid him a visit this morning and was much pleased with his 
friendly, republican, unassuming manners. He seemed quite 

» Memoirs of Lord Holland. Vol. II. pp. 98-103. 

* Letter- IJook of William Dillwyn. Ridgway branch of the Philadelphia Library, 
Mss. collection. 




\T I[|-'T1'.I.\. 



Mahta IIkstkh MoMiOK (>[rs. (iiiuvemeur) 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 887 

pleased with my Freedom in calling on him and readily engaged to 
dine here with his wife and two young Daughters this Day se'night. 
In conversation he rather increased my Hope that the present 
existing uneasiness between our country and this government will 
be dissipated by a more conciliatory Disposition in the present 
ministry than appeared in their predecessors. Be it so — for a 
war would unavoidably add to the irksomeness of our separation 
in many respects; and of selfish opponents this nation already 
has an ample share. Buonaparte is repeating his threats of Invasion 
and the preparations to repel it are no less active on every point 
deemed accessible. Happy for the nation as for Individuals would 
it be had we solid grounds for Reliance on a better Protection than 
human effort can afford. Some seem to think the Corsican too 
wicked to be employed even as an Instrument of Punishment, 
but altho' I have never felt much alarmed by any Ideas of his 
succeeding in his ambitious Designs on these Eangdoms I cannot 
easily appreciate the strength of an argument of that kind." 

On the day appointed (third month, seventeenth) 
Dillwyn adds: 

"Our four girls, etc, etc, are as busy in their Preparations to 
entertain them [the Monroes] as if th^ thought Republican & 
Spartan Manners were not necessarily sinonymous, and Lydia 
deprecates my censure by hinting that she means the compliment 
as much to her father as to the minister. ... I have often had 
occasion to remark that the lower orders of people here are more 
ignorant than the same class in my native country. I find a 
notion prevails among our poor neighbors that the Greatest Man 
in America, by them y'clept a King, is expected as our guest. 

19th. Our expected Guests came, accompanied by a Purvianoe 
of Baltimore (of the Philadelphia family of that name) probably 
attached to the Embassy. Monroe married a Cartwright 
[Kortright] of New York. She knows a good deal of our friends 
there, and is herself of a friendly social disposition. Several hours 
passed in as much Freedom and Ease as if we were assembled on 
the banks of the Hudson, the Delaware, or Potomack. Monroe's 
general information and particular knowledge of American affairs, 
render his conversation very interesting, and I believe we parted 
mutually pleased with the opp* of such a joint excursion to our 
native shores. Our young folks were highly delighted with it, 
the elder Daughter, about 18, much resembling lydia in the artless 
Frankness of Her Manners." 

On fifth month, twelfth, Dillwyn writes: 

**The day before yesterday, with my three younger daughters 
(Judy being not then well enough) I dined with Monroe, the 



288 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

American Ambassador, and could ooUect nothing from Um dis- 
covering the hope that the Ministers were cUsposed to settle 
matters in dispute by amicable negotiation. It was an agreodble 
afternoon." 



CHAPTER Xm 
Monroe and the War op 1812 

Just as we can see why Monroe and Pinkney were 
unable to secure a more favorable treaty, so, with the 
same glance, we perceive why Jefferson was unable to 
establish a workable peace policy. 

It was a vicious — a desperate situation. November 
21, 1806, Napoleon sent forth his Berlin decree. After 
that, no American vessel that had touched at an English 
port could enter a French port. November 11, 1807, 
came the retaliatory British Order in Council, closing 
all Napoleon's ports, whether in France or elsewhere. 
Next, Napoleon, December 17, issued his Milan decree, 
authorizing the seizure of any vessel that had paid 
British port-dues, or had permitted herself to be 
searched. Here, then, was a joke for the gods — Ho- 
meric their laughter, sardonic their smiles. The British 
would search us, whether or no; and, because the 
British searched us, the French would seize us. It was 
a rediLctio ad absurdum. Could Jefferson extricate him- 
self from so illogical a situation? 

One way out of the diflBculty was to, keep oiu* ships 
at home.^ Then, nobody could search them or seize 
them. December 22, 1807, Jefferson's Embargo Act 
was passed by Congress, and various enabling measures 
were subsequently adopted. Sure enough, the seizures 

I One effect of the Britiah Orders in Council and French Imperial decrees was 
to cause the failure of American shipping houses. For instance, that of Beckford 
h Bates. Boston. Joshua Bates then went to Europe as an agent of William Gray. 
In the counting-room of Hope k Co. at Havre, he won the confidence of Peter 
Caesar Labouoiere, of Hope k Co., and, subsequently through Labouchere, 
founded the house of Baring Bros. & Co. Bates was trying to get two cargoes of 
cotton sold on a lower oommission than another Havre bouse had offered. In 
the course ol the tuft, it developed that he himself, being on salary, would not 
profit by the lower oommissioD. Old Mr. Labouchere, behind his newspaper 
hesxditan. When Bates asked howheoould gpt a conveyanoe to Paris, Laboucners 
oAerad him his own chaise. The young Amencan had quite won him. 



S90 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

ceased. But were the French hurt? Not in the slightest; 
and the British had the ocean and its trade all to them- 
selves. We were the victims. Like a modem siren, 
wailing in the fog, sounded the protest of the New 
England vessel-owners. The Federalists added their 
curses to the anti-Jeffersonian chorus. Jefferson dung 
to his embargo, as a device preferable to war; but, it 
had to go by the board. Congress repealed it, and 
passed the Non-Lntercourse Act, March 1, 1809, thus 
stimulating home manufactiu'es. So, after all, England 
would get the worst of it, in one way at least — she 
would sell America less; she would cease to supply 
many articles customarily sent hither since early colonial 
times. 

On the whole, Jefferson had reason to feel that his 
first administration was good; but his second was far 
below the mark. Its lapses were due to his singular 
belief that the peaceful republic could get along with- 
out a navy, and yet send its merchant ships out upon 
the seas, dominated by a fighting nation with high 
ideas of its own primacy. Sir James Mackintosh spoke 
of a statesman as "a philosopher in action. " Burke, to 
him, was "the greatest philosopher in action that the 
world ever saw.'* But John Randolph said: "I do not 
wish another philosopher for President.*' He wanted 
Monroe, he added. Henry Adams is altogether too 
hard on Jefferson, whose inconsistencies were as 
apparent to his friends as to his opponents. Madison 
advised that "allowances be made for them."^ 

Like the astute politician General Samuel Smith, 
many another man thought Monroe in line for the 
presidency as Jefferson's immediate successor. Know- 
ing ones regarded Monroe's recent experiences as 
excellent lessons that would be of value to him should 
Napoleon continue to keep the British on edge. They 
understoo d why he had not come home with the 

^ Julius Melboum, edited by a late member of Congress, 1847, p. 92. Accord- 
ing to Melboum, Monroe was "mild and moderate.'* Without brilliancy of talents, 
he '* seemed rather to float than to swim.** *' Undoubtedly, however, he possessed 
much prudence and sagacity." As a politician, he was ** cautious and wary." p. 96, 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 291 

floridas in his pocket, and why he had sought to 
pacify British belligerency. On the other hand, Monroe 
nad disappointed Jefferson. We have already referred 
to the suggestion that Madison might have pre- 
arranged Monroe's diplomatic failure by setting a task 
and imposing conditions impossible to carry out. If 
so, the time-clock was well set to go off just as Jeffer- 
son, troubled with racking presidential pains, would 
be looking about him for some one of his own stamp 
to take his place. Madison loved Monroe but he also 
loved Madison; and who can blame him? "Jefferson,** 
says Edward Channing,^ "affected neutrality as between 
Madison and Monroe. . . • Monroe had for a long 
time been a political pupil of Jefferson's; but of late 
years Madison had been in such dose official relations 
that he had the first chance. Besides, Monroe had 
coquetted with John Randolph and the irreconcilables, 
and, by breaking his instructions, had brought his diplo- 
matic career to an unpleasant close, and in so doing had 
greatly distiu-bed Jefferson. Under these circumstances, 
the administration phalanx in Congress rallied to the 
support of Madison." 

But is it a fact that Monroe coquetted with Ran- 
dolph? We find nothing in Monroe's letters to warrant 
the assertion. As for Randolph, he flattered Monroe, 
cajoled him, and finally tried to make a tool of him. 
Henry Adams in his life of the Roanoke eccentric, in 
the chapter headed "John Randolph's Schism," in the 
third volume of his history (1805-1809) and on various 
other pages of his extraordinarily vigorous and impres- 
sive works, brings out the relations of the two Virginians 
with edifying completeness. John Randolph of Roanoke 
can hardly be understood unless we take into accoimt 
his environment — some of the characteristics of the 
age he lived in. Very human, very vengeful were the 
gentry of the period. John James Audubon tells us of 
a voyage to America in a motley company of refugees 

^ The Jefferaonian System (American Natioi^ Series, Vol. XII), pp. 220-228. See 
Jefferson's letters to Monroe, Jefferson's Works (Ford), Vol. IX, p. 176 ti teq. 



292 THE UFB OF JAMES MONBOB 

in 1806. A lady's bonnet blew overboard. A French 
officer plunged into the sea after it. Tliat night the 

Eassengers were startled by shots on deck. It proved to 
e a duel — and the gallant rescuer was dead ; shot by 
the lady's lover. Nor were our diplomatic frictions 
unheeded on this side of the sea. Heated controversies 
grew out of them — deadly disputes, indeed. It was 
stiU the day of the duel. Dr. J. Marion Sims,^ speaking 
of a stiU later period, declared the duello to be ^*the 
bane of life. '' In Petersburg, John Daly Burk, author 
of an excellent history of Virginia, lawyer, poet, play- 
wright, an ardent liberty-lover and Anglophobe, became 
a victim. He was in the dining-room at Powell's 
Tavern, and was denouncing the French, in connection 
with the Armstrong-Champagny' episode. He said 
they were "a pack of rascals." M. Felix Coquebert, 
a Frenchman, overheard him and cried out, protesting. 
"Who are you, sir?" asked Burk'; adding: "you can 
interpret what I said as you like." "Very wdl, sir"; 

^ Story ol My Life, Dr. J. Marion Sima, 1884, edited by his son, H. Marion Sam. 
Also aee Life and Times of Walter Addison, for an account of the duel of Mason 
and Jack McCarty. McCarty, a dead shot, proposed that the two iJiould take 
hold of hands and jump from the top of the Capitol. 

*Jean Baptiste de Champagny took Talleyrand^s place as Foreign Minister. 
Napoleon wrote him, February ft, 1808, to let Armstrong know that if America 
should become his ally he would make Spain give her the Floridas. He would 
also arrange the western boundary of Louisiana to suit America. Armstrong wrote 
to Madison, February 15: "With one hand they offer us the blessing of equal 
alliance against Great Britain; with the other they menace us with war if we do 
not accept this kindness; and with both they pick our pockets with all imaginable 
diligence, dexterity and impudence.'* — Adams, History, "The Dot de Maia,** 
Vol. IV. p. 2»5. 

* Burk's story is ronumtic. On the steps of Trinity College, Dublin, he saw 
British soldiers taking a man to drum-head execution. He caSed other students, 
and his party bowlea the soldiers over and rescued the captive. Burk fled to a 
book-seller's shop. His Irish wolf dog at the door kept his pursuers back until he 
escaped in woman's clothes at the rear of the house. He was "Miss Daly"; and 
that is how the "Daly" got into his name. He was caught in Boston and was 
about to be hanged at the yard*s-arm when Colonel Aaron Burr saved him. He 
wrote "Bunker Hill,** a pUy. President John Adams went to see it. "Sir,** 
said he to Burk, "my friend General Warren was a scholar and a gentleman, but 
your author has made him a bully and a blackguard.*' Jefferson encouraged 
Burk, and John Randolph of Roanoke liked him. Poets wrote of him in The 
Portfolio. He was buried in a beautiful garden by the Appomattox. His son, 
John Junius Burk, was a noted judge in Louisiana. Skelton Jones, connected 
with Burk's History of Virginia, also lost his life in a duel. In the spring of 1800, 
there were twenty-one duds within six weeks. Six men were killed and eleven 
were wounded. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE £93 

and at sunrise next day, in a piney grove, Bnrk, a 
handsome, fine man, tore open his waistcoat as he leaped 
in the air and fell; shot through the heart. 

Not only were those our duelling days, but it was a 
period of contentiousness, of hot-blood, of bravado, of 
peppery resentment. One had to show spirit or slink 
out of the circle of gentility. Manhood resentment of a 
noble sort was common enough on the border; and 
your Indian was as apt to bristle on a point of honor as 
was a white man. At Vincennes, in 1811, General 
Harrison ordered a chair to be brought for Tecumseh. 
The man who fetched it bowed and said: "Warrior, 
your father. General Harrison, oflFers you a seat." 
"My father!" said Tecumseh, lifting his long arms 
aloft; "the sun is my father, and the earth is my 
mother; she gives me nourishment and I repose upon 
her bosom. " And down he sat, with grace enough to 
excuse his fine old grandiloquence. We shall soon hear 
from him. He stuck his tomahawk into history's tree, 
and it is stiU there. 

John Randolph of Roanoke was a product of these 
days of Tecumsehs, duelling-pistols, and stormy fac- 
tional democracy. If he had no Tecumseh in him, he at 
least had some of the blood of Pocahontas, as well as 
plantation aristocracy. He had his slaves, his thorough- 
breds and his expansive acres. He often rode break- 
neck, mile after mile; and is said to have nearly killed 
William H. Crawford of Georgia, who accompanied 
him on one of these mad cross-country dashes. 

Such was the man who selected Monroe as a favorite, 
and Madison as anything but a favorite. He was quick 
to criticize Jefferson, too; and, at last, worked up an 
opposition both to the President and Secretary of 
State. For a long time Randolph's schism seemed to be 
a mere whim. Everything was done in secret at the 
Capitol and White House; but Randolph said such 
cutting things, his sarcasms were so keenly true, that 
people began to suspect a split in the Republican 
party. Rimdolph's real purpose was to keep Madison 



2M THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

out of the presidency. So when the Administration 
asked Congress to pass the two-million act, and Madison 
told Randolph, chairman of the Ways and Means 
Conmiittee, that we must give that sum to Ftance for 
Florida "'or have a Spanish and French War/' Ran- 
dolph saw his opportunity to begin a quarrel. He said 
that "his confidence in the Secretary of State had never 
been high, but now it was gone forever." The issue 
was joined. Jefferson and Madison won in the House 
by seventy-six to fifty-four. Henry Adams^ says: "The 
malcontents felt that for the first time in the history of 
their party the whip of Executive power had been 
snapped over their heads. " Madison wanted to coerce 
England through restrictions in trade — "peaceable 
coercion," Jefferson called it. In the Senate, tiie 
ambitious General Samuel Smith' introduced three non- 
importation resolutions. They embarrassed Jefferson, 
who "disliked and dreaded the point in dispute with 
England." The resolutions were modified. Henry 
Adams* adds: 

**The reason of this halting movement had been explained by 
Merry to Lord Mulgrave nearly two weeks before. The Senate 
stumbled over the important personality of James Monroe. The 
next Presidential election some three years distant, warped the 
national policy in regard to foreign encroachment. Senator Samud 
Smith, ambitious to distinguish himself in diplomacy, having 
failed to obtain the mission to Paris, wished the dignity of a special 
envoy to London, and was supported by Wilson Gary Nicholas. 
The friends of Madison were willing to depress Monroe, whom John 
Randolph was trying to elevate. Even Mrs. Madison* in the 
excitement of electioneering allowed herself to talk in general 
society very slightingly of Monroe, and there were reasons which 
made interference from Mrs. Madison peculiarly irritating to 

» H. Adams. History, Vol. HI. p.l89. 

* The Baltimore Smiths who figure in the Senate and Cabinet were Samuel and 
Robert — sons of John, merchant, ship owner and Revolutionary patriot. "Sam" 
it was who fought so well at Mud Island in the Delaware, aided by the Frenchman 
Fleury. 

» H. Adams, History, Vol. HI. pp. 151-152. Anthony Merry. British Minister, 
to Lord Mulgrave; Mss. British Archives. 

« Diary of John Quincy Adams. March 14, 1806. Vol. I, p. 420: "Mr. Bayard 
told me he had last evening some conversation with Mrs. Madison upon the 
presidential election now so warmly carried on, in which she spoke very slightingly 
of Mr. Monroe." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 295 

Monroe's friends. Dr. Logan, the Senator from Pennsylvania, 
while hdping Madison to satisfy Napoleon in regard to St. 
Domingo, was prominent in suggesting that it would be well to 
set Monroe gently aside.^ TUs coalition of Madison, Smith, 
Logan, and Wilson Gary Nicholas was so strong as to control the 
Senate.** 

From the Senate, the non-importation question got 
into the House. Chairman Randolph would not report 
on British relations, but one day, when he was sick in 
bed, the House voted to take the matter out of his 
hands. A debate followed. It lasted many days. 
Finally, in came Nemesis with the sarcastic mouth, 
pale as a ghost. He was ^'manacled, handcuffed, and 
tongue-tied,'* he said, but he would "hobble over the 
subject as well as his fettered limbs and palsied tongue 
would enable him to do it/* Then he uttered his 
memorable philippic against Jefferson, Madison and 
their adherents in Congress. He paid his respects to 
Representatives Gregg and Crowninshield who had 
just spoken : " The proper argument for such statesmen 
are a strait-waistcoat, a dark-room, water-gruel and 
depletion." Crowninshield wanted to confiscate British 
property. "God help you if these are your ways and 
means of carrying on war.'' He protested against 
"secret, irresponsible, over-ruling influence," against 
an "invisible, inscrutable, unconstitutional Cabinet, 
without responsibility, unknown to the Constitution. 
I speak of back-stairs influence — of men who bring 
messages to this House, which, though they do not 
appear on the Joiumals, govern its decisions." 

Henry Adams thinks that, if Randolph had contented 
himself with this first assault, he would have done 
actual good; but he kept up the assaults, day after day, 
attacking Madison for the manner in which he had 
managed affairs. "I do not speak of the negotiator 
[Monroe] — God forbid ! — but of those who direw the 
instructions of the man who negotiated." On April 7, 
he cut loose from the administration, carrying with 

^ Diaiy of John Quincy Adama, February 1, 1806, Vol. I, p. SM. 



296 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

him **some twenty-five or thirty of the ablest Repub- 
licans in Congress." "Meanwhile/* says Adams,^ 
"the President busily conciliated opposition; and his 
first thought was of Monroe in London, certain to 
become the centre of intrigue." Randolph likewise 
wrote to Monroe "that the Republican party was 
broken to pieces and that the *old RepubUcans' were 
united in his support against Madison for the Presi- 
dency." * April 22, he wrote: "A decided division 
has taken place in the Republican party." Other letters 
followed. In a long one from Bizarre, Randolph flat- 
tered Monroe with lavish brush — "laid it on thick," 
as the phrase goes; too thick, of course, since Monroe 
was a man of discernment, and modest withal. Again 
Randolph wrote: "We don't want a Yazoo president." 
He harped on the corrupt Yazoo land deal in Georgia, 
when the Legislatiu-e of that State let miUions of acres 
go at two and one-half cents an acre. 

Nathaniel Macon,* Speaker of the House, and 
Joseph H. Nicholson, of Maryland, were among 
Randolph's "Old Republicans." So were Joseph Clay 
of Philadelphia, Colonel John Taylor of Carolina and 
Littleton Tazewell — all "unshaken friends of Monroe" 
all excellent men. Jefferson adroitly made Nicholson 
judge. Randolph wrote from Richmond to Nicholson, 
during the Burr trial, expressing astonishment that 
Burr's partner in the big plot, Wilkinson, should be 
"on the very summit of Executive favor, whilst James 
Monroe is denounced." Randolph might well have 
felt disgust; for Monroe's treaty had served to eliminate 
him from the presidential contest; Jefferson had 
smothered it; Monroe was coming home humiliated 
and with the feeling that he had been scurvily treated 

^ H. Adams, History, Vol. m, p. 165. Jefferson to Monroe^ March 16, 1806; 
Jefferson Mss. 

* Life of John Randolph by Henry Adams, pp. 199-202. 

* Macon wrote to Nicholson, April 21, 1811: "Can you tell me how the change 
in the Department of State was brought about? The office of State seems to be 
the path to the Presidency and the mission to Russia a port of political deathbed.** 
He thought Monroe would be hard pressed with British negotiations on account 
of the treaty he made. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 297 

by the very men whom he had served with an eye to 
the success of the administration and the good of the 
country. 

Monroe left London, October 29, 1807; and, after a 
long wait for a fair wind, on November 14 sailed in 
the ship " Augustus " from Portsmouth for home. His 
family remained oversea. Henry Adams* notes that, 
during our diplomat's five years abroad, he had been 
"insulted by every Foreign Secretary in France, Spain 
and £ngland." He adds, with severity, if not injustice: 

*In many respects Monroe's career was unparalleled, but he 
was singular above all in the experience of being disowned by 
two Presidents as strongly opposed to each other as Washington 
and Jefferson, and of being sacrificed by two secretaries as widely 
different as Timothy Pickering* and James Madison. . . . Doubt- 
less only personal friendship and the fear of strengthening Fed- 
eralist influence prevented President Jefferson from denoimcing 
Monroe's conduct as forcibly as President Washington had 
denounced it ten years before; and Jefferson's grounds of com- 
plaint were more serious than Washington's. Monroe expected 
and even courted martyrdom, and never quite forgot the treat- 
ment he received. In private, George Hay, Monroe's son-in-law, 
who knew all the secrets of his career, spoke afterward of Jefferson 
as *one of the most insincere men in the world; . . . his enmity 
to Mr. Monroe was inveterate, though disguised, as he was at the 
bottom of all the opposition to Mr. Monroe in Virginia. ' "• 

No doubt Judge Hay knew some of Monroe's secrets; 
but in that time of many troubles he may have made 
unwarranted assumptions; just as Adams appears to 
do in this chapter. The cold facts are : Monroe exercised 
unusual skill and admirable judgment in France and 
Spain. In England he gave in on impressment, it is 
true; but what happened after a bloody war when eight 
wise peacemakers put their heads together at Ghent? 
They also put aside impressment — for a later treaty. 



* In his chapter headed "Insults and Popularity," Vol. IV, History of the United 
States, pp. 126-151. 

^ For Pickering^s commendation of Monroe, see H. Adams, Vd. IV, pp. 129, 180; 
Pickering to Thomas Fitzsimmons, December 4, 1807. 

* Diary of John Quincy Adams, May 2S, 1824, Vol. IV, p. 84a 



298 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

John Bull, cousin of Squire Western, was own brother 
to Sir Giles Overreach.* 

Charming, indeed, is the chapter in which Adams 
reviews Monroe's diplomatic disasters, but what he 
says is mainly speculation. Monroe's efforts to acquire 
Florida involved an immense deal of intelligent labor; 
his Louisiana success cost him little, and won him 
enough glory to offset the discredit of the most censo- 
rious of his critics. 

Monroe reached Norfolk on December IS; Washing- 
ton on the twenty-second, where he had a talk witfi 
Madison; and probably spent Christmas at his home 
in Albemarle. Though there were signs that he meant 
to go into the opposition, he appears to have realized 
the futility of such a course. He soon witnessed the 
complete discomfiture of his Randolphian friends. 
January 21, 1808, Madison was nominated by a caucus 
of the Virginia Legislature. January 23, Congress held 
its caucus. Of the one himdred and thirty republican 
members of the House and Senate, but eighty-nine 
attended it. Madison received eighty-three votes; 
Monroe three and George Clinton, three. For a long 
while thereafter, Randolph worked on Monroe's 
wounded pride; but later turned on him. His letter 
to Monroe dated Bell Tavern, Monday night, January 
14, 1811, shows clearly his realization that it was 
useless to court a man so unwilling to be manipulated. 

Nevertheless Monroe's return from London was in 
sackcloth, if not in ashes; just as his return from Paris 
had been ten years before. History was repeating itself 



* Students of Henry Adams would do well to follow his "Insults and Popularity/* 
Chapter on Monroe (Vol. IV) with an examination of Monroe's letters to Colonel 
John Taylor ^f Caroline in Vol. V of Writings of Monroe. In these Monroe goes 
over the ground of his discomfiture and reasons out the ethical questions involved. 
What does a man owe to his party? Should he not be very careful, indeed, before 
harboring factional spirit? There was a patriotic course, as a rule; this course a 
man should find and take. It would hurt him sorely to feel that, in attacking the 
administration, he should play into the hands of the enemy. Let his smarts heal 
themselves. Taylor, says S. M. Hamilton, differed with Monroe. Wliat he 
wanted for the minority was "a manly avowal of principle; Monroe should adopt 
the course he took in 1707; the true motive for guidance is to take office if good can 
be done thereby.** 



IHE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 299 

in his case, surely. He had then busied himself writing 
his "View"; now he wrote a defense of his diplomacy 
in England. Dated April 6, 1808, it occupied ten folio 
pages of the State Papers.^ Nor does the parallel end 
here. He was elected Governor in 1799; and now, 
having been elected to the Virginia House of Delegates 
(for the third time) in the spring of 1810, he was again 
chosen Governor* of the State, serving from January 
to November, 1811. We have a good glimpse of him 
at this period in a letter by Nicholas Biddle printed 
in a book* about a contemporary, W. S. Shaw, who 
was secretary to President John Adams. "While I was 
in Virginia," wrote Nicholas Biddle, **I saw Mr. Monroe 
who is calmly sitting down to the culture of tobacco, 
near Charlottesville. His estate is very good, but has 
been out of order during his absence. However he has 
received another handsome estate left to him by an 
imcle." He was Judge Jones's executor and his duties 
as such, with other family matters, kept him employed 
for a considerable time. 

It was not long before Madison had to pay a i)enalty 
for suppressing the Monroe-Pinkney treaty. He 
received one himdred and twenty-two electoral votes 
in a total of one hundred and seventy-five,* and suc- 
ceeded JeflFerson as President, March 4, 1809. He 
regarded the British outlook as favorable, since young 
Mr. Erskine was friendly, sanguine and zealous in 

^ While Monroe*! letters to Jefferaon and Madison during the winter and spring 
of 1808 are coudied in friendly terms, there is a reserve that bespeaks a grievance. 
These letters are to be found in Writings of Monroe, Vol. V, pp. 20 et sag. The 
memoranda sent to Madison may be found in the same volume, pp. 80^6. Most 
of the letters bear the Richmond date. Monroe returned to Albemarle late hi 
April. In midsimuner he was in Bedford county and in September in Albemarle. 
It was much the same in 1809. 

* Jefferson wrote to Monroe oongratulating him on his election as Governor. 
It was a testimony to his fidelity in principle. — Jefferson to Monroe^ January 85» 
1811. 

* Memorials of William Smith Shaw, by Joseph B. Felt, 185ft. Biddle's letter 
was to Colonel George Gibbs, the Boston mineralogist. Biddle wrote in a friendly 
way to Monroe, November 18, 1808; and in his reply, January 7, 1800, Monroe 
confessed that it pained him to touch upon his differences with his old itttrnatM 
Works, V. 85. 

^George Clinton, Vice-President, had 113 Totes. The Fedcndift voU wm 
Charles C. Pinckney, 47 and Bufus King, 47. 



300 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

his eflforts to put aside difficulties. '' Erskine* promised 
that the Orders in Council should be withdrawn if the 
United States would hold fast to its rule of non-inter- 
course with France, pending the repeal of the French 
decrees. He also agreed that an adjustment of the 
Leopard-Chesapeake affairs should be undertaken. 
Accordingly Madison (April 19, 1809) lifted the non- 
intercourse act as far as Great Britain was concerned; 
and, on June 10, *'a thousand ships • • . spread their 
wings like a flock of long-imprisoned birds, and flew 
out to sea.'* * But soon Madison wrote to Jefferson: 
"Erskine is in a ticklish situation with his government." 
Foreign Minister Canning, in fact, repudiated Erskine 
just as Jefferson and Madison had repudiated Monroe. 
It was tit for tat. Erskine was recalled (August 9, 
1809); Francis James Jackson sent in his place. This 
was "Copenhagen Jackson*' who was with the British 
fleet at the time of the outrage at that capital. When 
Madison learned that the British were still stubborn 
he proclaimed non-intercourse again, August 9. March 
23, 1810, Napoleon issued his Rambouillet decree, 
confiscating a hundred American craft. 

In England, meanwhile, the Grenville Ministry had 
fallen — not on account of Lord Grenville's "reckless 
foreign policy," but on the issues of the abolition of 
the slave trade and Catholic emancipation. The union 
of aristocratic Grenville Whigs and Sidmouth Tories 
was a thing of the past; from this time until Waterloo, 
and long after, the Tories alone would hold sway. 
With the Duke of Portland as the titular chief, the 
real brains of the Ministry were lodged in the head of 
George Canning, Foreign Secretary. Now, it so happens 



^ Erskine was the son of Lord Erakme, and owed his appointment to Charles 
James Fos. He was ha]f Bepublican by education, half American bv marriage; 
and, probably, like all British liberals, he felt in secret an entire want of confidence 
in Canning and a poeiti've antipathy to the Tory commercial system. . . . The 
com^w of his [Oannmg'sJ own acts and ^roeval's measures, suggested that he did 
not intend to offer any terms which the United States could accept. H. Adams, 
History. VoL V, Chapter 8. 

* James Madison, by Sydney Howard Gay, 1834, p. 286 ~ a book that is criti- 
as having too strong a tincture of Federalism. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 801 

that Canning not only played a famous part as an 
anti-American in the events leading up to the War of 
1812 but as a pro-Ajneriean ten years later. He did all 
he could to down Madison and Monroe while the war 
was threatening, and favored the formation of the 
Monroe doctrine after the war was over. Canning, 
then, is an especially large figure in our story. Who was 
he? 

George Canning was bom in the parish of Mary-le- 
bone, London, April 11, 1770. His branch of the 
Cannings had been identified with Ireland since Queen 
Elizabeth granted George Canning a manor in the 
county of Londonderry. His father, also Greorge, had 
married a dowerless beauty, all for love's sake, and 
had been set adrift with a pittance and the stem 
reminder that it would not be augmented on the death 
of his father. Called to the bar in London, he went in 
for poetry and politics, but "died of a broken heart on 
the very first birthday of his illustrious son, who with 
his mother, was left in such circimastances of destitution 
that she was obliged, for her maintenance, to attempt 
the stage." She appeared as Jane Shore to Garrick's 
Lord Hastings. But she was not successful in London 
and went to the provinces, where she married an actor. 
She was a beautiful and accomplished woman and in 
her later years was happy in the attentions of her son 
who was educated at Eton through the generosity of 
an uncle.^ A pupil under Pitt, Canning's "brilliant 
rhetoric gave him power over the House of Commons, 
while the vigor and energy of his mind gave a new 
color to the war.'* So says Green, who reminds us that 
at no time had opposition to Napoleon seemed so 
hopeless. Whatever Canning did to check France at 
sea, he could do nothing to arrest her progress on land. 
Napoleon was drunk with success. He was absolutely 
master of Western Europe, "and its whole face changed 

^ Memoin of Greorge Canning, by Samuel F. Lea, 1829, 2 vols. An old playbill 
of the Theatre Royal, August 2S, 1771, announces ''Othdlo," followed by the farce 
"Like Master Like Man. "Mrs. Reddish, who pUyed Leonora in the farce, was, 
we presume, the mother of Gtorge Canning." 



S04 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

Finally, they withdrew their orders, June 23, 1812 — 
just a little too late, just four days after something had 
happened that made the withdrawal a superfluous 
proceeding. The King, poor soul, had gone mad; a 
regent ruled; Perceval was assassinated, and Lord 
Liverpool was Prime Minister. 

WTien the Twelfth Congress met, November 4, 1811, 
yoimg men, whelps of the earUer war time, held sway 
in the House. This was the autumn when Henry Clay,* 
six times Speaker, made his debut. He avowed himself 
in favor of a war against England. What was America 
obliged to do? "To bear the actual cuflFs of arrogance, 
that we may escape a chimerical French subjugation. 
We are called upon to submit to debasement, dishonor 
and disgrace; to bow the neck to royal insolence." 
There spoke the West. By and by Calhoun would 
voice the South, logically, without a stammering note. 
Clay's utterance may have been declamatory, but it 
had the merit of dissipating the fog — especially the 
French fog. It was the time of Felix Grundy, Langdon 
Cheves and William Lowndes. According to an old 
Federalist assertion, Clay headed a conmiittee that 
proceeded from the Capitol to the White House and 
notified Madison tliat he must either send a war 
message to Congress or fail to succeed himself. The 
story ends with the surrender of the elder statesman 
to the young men who had the audacity to go coerce 
him in his den. It is an interesting story, but not true.* 
Clay himself denied it. Of his own accord, Madison 
saw that the commercial devices used by him while in 
JeflFerson's Cabinet and since he himself had become 
chief, were inadequate. He had been his own Secretary 
of State practically; for Smith could not write the 
necessary papers, much less direct the affairs of the 
department. Time had come for a change. Monroe 

* Clay was at the front for forty years. He wrott to Monroe that he preferred 
the turbulent House to the solemn Senate; November, 1810, Schouler, Vol. 11, p. 3S6. 

^ Hunt says. Life of Madison, p. 317: "Mr. Henry Adams, in his Life of Albert 
Gallatin (p. 456 et seq.) gives all tne proofs of this charge that the Federalists could 
produce and pronounces it unfounded.** 



THE LIFE OF JAIVIES MONROE 305 

was the most trustworthy man. He and Monroe had 
almost ceased to write to each other. But they must 
come together. Smith must go. Madison summoned 
Smith and frankly told him what he thought of him. 
Smith wanted to go to England as Minister, or to be 
elevated to the Supreme Court. Madison said he would 
send him to St. Petersburg. This did not suit Smith, 
who, being thus dismissed, attacked his former chief. 

There are several letters in the Bureau of Rolls* 
that tell of Monroe's transfer from the gubernatorial 
chair at Richmond to the office of Secretary of State 
at Washington. 

Monroe wrote from Albemarle, February 25, 1810, 
to Senator Richard Brent of Virginia, telling of a visit 
from Jefferson, who suggested that Monroe should 
take the governorship of Louisiana or else a military 
position. Monroe replied that he wanted neither; but, 
said he, had Mr. Madison offered him a seat in the 
Cabinet he would have accepted it. As a matter of 
fact, he was not desirous of any office. In course of 
time Brent replied, suggesting that Monroe should 
take the portfolio of State. Writing from Richmond, 
March 18, 1811, Monroe expressed doubt as to whether 
he should embrace the opportunity offered him. What 
did Brent think? March 18, he wrote to Brent again. 
By whom had Brent been consulted, the President, or 
Mr. Gallatin, or both? Would the President write 
such a letter (that might be read to the Legislature) 
as would justify his retirement from the executive office 
in Virginia? His State had treated him so well, so 
appreciatively, that this much was due to her. Madison 
wrote on the twentieth, and Monroe replied on the 
twenty-third, saying that he was disposed to take hold. 
The promotion of the public happiness would be his 
aim. On the twenty-ninth he accepted outright; he 
would be ready, he said, to leave Richmond Uie day 



* Bureau of RoUs, letters to Brent, pp. 207. 868; Monroe to Madbon, pp. 807, 
808; there are many letters from Madison to Monroe relating to the war, p^. 146- 



806 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

after the commission and documents should be received. 
This commission soon reached him; and, on April 2, 
1811, he began his duties in the State Department 
As the change was made during the recess of the Senate, 
the nomination was not sent in until November IS. 
On the twenly-fifth of that month he was confirmed. 
At once Madison felt his arm strengthened for a conflict 
which he had almost ceased to evade — which was 
bound to come. It is true that a newly appointed 
British Minister, John Augustus Foster, — who had 
arrived at Washington, still endeavored with some 
skill to sustain various British contentions. But ^^the 
diplomatic insolvency inherited from Merry, Rose, 
Erskine and Jackson became more complete with eveiy 
year that passed." ^ Such was the case with the 
general situation. ''Awkward as Madison's position 
was, that of Monroe was many degrees worse. . . . 
In July he found himself in pamful straits." He was 
obliged to blame Jonathan Russell, of the American 
Legation at Paris, for questioning the revocation of the 
French decrees. When Foster protested against the 
seizure of West Florida, Monroe had to resent **the 
assertion that West Florida belonged to Spain, for his 
character as a man of sense, if not truth, was involved 
in the assertion that he had himself bought West 
Florida in his Louisiana purchase." Monroe "pained" 
Foster* by calling his attention to the fact that "the 
United States showed suflBcient forbearance in not 
assisting the insurgents of South America." Was 
Monroe even then mulling the Monroe Doctrine in his 
mind? "Foster," says Adams, "was obliged to ignore 
the meaning of this pointed remark, while his inquiries 
how far the American Government meant to carry 
its seizures of Spanish territory drew from Monroe no 
answer but a laugh. The Secretary seemed a trans- 
formed man. Not only did he show no dread of inter- 
ference from England in Florida, but he took an equally 

^H. ildams, Hutory, Vol. VI, Chapter 2. "The Little Belt/' 

« H. Adams, History. Vol. VI, pp. 25-45. Foster to Wellesley, July 5. 1811. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 807 

indiflFerent air on every other matter except one. He 
had not a word about impressments; he betrayed no 
wish to trouble himself about the Chesapeake aflFair'; 
he made no haste in apologizing for the * Little Belt'; 
but the Orders of Council — these and nothing else — 
formed the issue on which a change was to depend/* 
The more ground Foster lost the more threats he made. 
July 18 he wrote that England would retaliate for the 
non-importation act. " While this threat," adds Adams, 
" was all that England offered for Monroe's friendship, 
news arrived on flie same day that Napoleon, May 4, 
had opened his ports to American Conmierce. Not till 
then did Monroe give way, and timi his back upon 
England and his old political friends. July 24 Monroe 
sent his answer to the British Minister's argument.* 
In substance this note, though long, contained nothing 
new; but in effect it was an ultimatum which left 
England to choose between concession and war." 
**Your Lordship," wrote Foster to Wellesley, "cannot 
expect to hear of any change till Congress meets." 
As for Serurier who had succeeded Turreau as Minister 
for France, he likewise was writing home. Hugues 
Bernard Maret, Due de Bassano, had supplanted 
Champagny in Paris, and to him Serurier addressed a 
remarkable note concerning Monroe.* It had come 
to his ears that Napoleon had instructed French 
Consuls in the United States to issue certificates to 
the American vessels about to sail for France. Monroe 
sent for Serurier, who wrote: 

**Mr. Monroe's countenance was absolutely distorted (foiit-a- 
fait decomposSe). I could not conceive how an object apparently 
so unimportant, could affect him, so keenly. He continued thus: 
'You are witness, sir, to the candor of our motives, to the loyalty 
of our principles, to our immovable fidelity to our engagements. 
In spite of party clamor and the extreme difficulty of the circum- 
stances, we persevere in our system; but your Government aban- 
dons us to the attacks of its enemies and ours by not fulfilling on iti 
side the conditions set forth in the President's proclamation. • • • 

» State Papers, Vol. Ill, p. 4S0. 

' Serurier to Maret, June SO, 1811, as quoted by Adami. 



S06 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

The Administration finds itself in the most extreme embarrassmeDt 
(dans le plus extreme embarras); it knows neither what to expect 
from you, nor what to say to its constitutents. '* 

Adams ironically hints that Monroe had caught the 
European tone. He satirizes at Monroe's expense. 
Very different was the estimate of the satijist's grand- 
father^ who declares that Monroe's duties at this 
critical time — "a time full of diflSculty and danger*' — 
were "performed with untiring assiduity, with uni- 
versally acknowledged ability, and with a zeal of 
patriotism which coimted health, fortune and life 
itself for nothing in the ardor of self devotion to the 
cause of his coimtry." 

If Monroe's countenance were "distorted" on the 
occasion just mentioned, it was frigidly composed when 
Serurier saw him next — after the arrival of the 
"Essex" with dispatches: "I found him icy. ... 1 
was heard with politeness, but coldly. . . . Already, 
within a few days, I notice a change in the manners of 
every one about me." Monroe's high tone caused 
Serurier to reflect it. July 4, Monroe sent Joel Barlow, 
the new minister, off for France; next day,. he called 
Barlow back. July 9 Monroe had "a striking" inter- 
view with Serurier, "in which the Secretary of State 
became more impassioned than ever." And now we 
come to Serurier's report of the interview which we 
feel obliged to give for what it is worth. Monroe is 
reported to have said: "People in Europe suppose us 
to be merchants, occupied exclusively with pepper and 
ginger. They are much deceived, and I hope we shall 
prove it. The immense majority of citizens do not 
belong to this class, and are, as much as you Europeans,, 
controlled by principles of honor and dignity. I never 
knew what trade was. The President is as much a 
stranger to it as I; and we accord to commerce only 
the protection that we owe it, as every government 
owes it to an interesting class of citizens. " 



^ Life of James Monroe, by John Quincy Adams, p. 270. 



THE LIFE OP JAMES MONROE 809 

Viewed in the cold light of these present days of 
looming commercialism these were mifortunate words 
in the mouth of Spence Monroe's son ; but when spoken 
into the ear of Monsieur Serurier, the accomplished 
diplomat, they served a purpose. Monroe wished to 
stress a new and significant matter. At last a new 
spirit was rising. An American could be as proud as 
Tecumseh upon occasion. Besides, there was such a 
thing as stretching patience and continuing to stretch 
it until, by and by something happened. Madison and 
Monroe were at the end of patience. France continu- 
ally tried to fool them. England was ceaselessly 
irritating. Adams says: "Under such circumstances, 
Monroe needed more than common powers in order to 
do his part. Talleyrand himself would have found his 
impassive coimtenance tried by assuring Foster in the 
morning that the decrees were repealed, and in rating 
Serurier in the afternoon because they were in force. " 
Not that such double-dealing actually happened; but 
the opportunity for appositeness was too good to miss. 
We have the word of John Quincy Adams for it that 
duplicity was foreign to Monroe's nature. He knew 
Monroe well. He appreciated, too, the perilous situa- 
tion of the whole country, with New England clamorous, 
and vengeful enemies talking of a Tippecanoe just 
passed and other Tippecanoes to come. "The Con- 
stitution'* he said, "had never before been subjected 
to the trial of a formidable foreign war. " But Monroe 
has had many severe critics. For instance, Edward 
Everett Hale.^ His contention is that the country 
got along in spite of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. 
"The people of America govern America,** he avers. 
Hale has a chapter on Monroe, following one on "The 
Virginian Dynasty.'* He says: 

''Undoubtedly Thomas Jefferson, without meaning to inflict 
a serious injury on the fortunes of the young Nation, really thought 



' In hb Memories of a Hundred Yean (1002), a sprightly but exceedingly parti- 
san budget of reminiscences and opinions in two volumes. He condemns tbe. 
ante-bellum historians,, and biuds Adams. 



310 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

he was to be a sort of a Eng. But the young Nation was so mnch 
stronger than he was that, af tar he became President, he really 
fills the place in histoiy which a f us^ and foolish nurse fills in 
the biography of a man like Franklin, or Washington, or Groethe, 
or Julius Caesar, of whom the nurse had the charge. ... To tell 
the whole truth the histoiy of what I call the Virginia Dynasty, 
their failures and follies, their fuss and feathers and fol-de-iol, 
for the first quarter of a century, never gpt itsdf written down 
until twelve years ago. Mr. Heniy Adams (1890) published his 
very entertaining histoiy of the years between 1801 and 1817. . . . 
He is the son of a great statesman, who is the son of another ereat 
statesman, who is the son of another great statesman, and aU his 
ancestors have left behind them full materials for Idstoiy. . . . 
With a diarming and pitiless impartiality, he draws curtains back 
and reveals to us the frenzies, the follies, the achievements, and 
the failures of what people call the 'government' between 1800 
and 1817." 

The three Adamses — John, John Qumcy and 
Charles Francis, Sr. — are "great statesmen'*; but the 
author of the Declaration of Independence, the father 
of the Constitution and the promulgator of the Monroe 
Doctrine are really to be pitied as mere bunglers who 
only failed to ruin the people because the people were 
not of the mind to let themselves be ruined. Of course 
Hale was a good man, a patriot who made his mark, but 
his ante-beUum history is woefully distorted. History 
and biography are not to be made a family matter of, 
or aggrandized by a section of the country whether 
east of the Hudson or south of the Potomac. As we 
have said, with much more reiteration than is agreeable 
either to us or to our readers, the prime, the vital 
struggle of the period was in behalf of American 
democratic government as against the aristocratic 
rule of the few. 

But both threats and cajoleries soon ceased to be of 
value. Indeed, as Gaillard Hunt^ says ''war was 
practically existent; New York was blockaded; Ameri- 
can ships were seized by British ships ; American sailors 
were impressed." Madison's war message was sent to 
Congress, June 1. On Jime 3, Calhoun's committee 

'life of 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 811 

reported in favor of war. On June 4 the House adopted 
the war report, seventy-nine to forty-nine. On June 18, 
the Senate acquiesced by a vote of nineteen to thirteen. 

For a long time this war report of the Committee on 
Foreign Relations was thought to be the work of John 
Caldwell Calhoun (bom March 18, 1782; died March 
31, 1850) then new to Congress — an erect, thin-faced, 
six-footer, with bushy brown hair, bushy brown eye- 
brows, deep set gray-blue eyes of remarkable brilliancy, 
and manners that were at once "simple, gentle and 
sympathetic."^ But did he really write the war 
manifesto of 1812? His early biographer, John S. 
Jenkins^ who gives his speech in the House on the 
war resolutions, does not attribute it to him. But 
several of the later biographers and historians do — 
John Randolph Tucker, H. von Hoist, Sydney Howard 
Gay and even Henry Adams.' 

Apparently " the message and the report came from 
sources so closely allied as to be almost intermingled.*' 
So insists Gaillard Hunt, who, in a convincing study 
of the subject, in the American Historical Review 
(Vol. XIII, pp. 303-312) and in his " Life of Calhoun '' 
(p. 25) says : 

''it (the manifesto) had, in fact, been prepared, when the message 
was prepared, or before, and by the hand of the Secretary of State, 
James Monroe. Both the message and the report emanated from 
the same source, the administration of James Madison.'* 

Now by the way of historical reminiscence, Joseph 
Gales for fifty years editor of The National Intelli- 
gencer, published in that journal as late as January 3, 
1853, the speech made by John Randolph of Roanoke 
in the House, on January 12, 1813. At the same time. 
Gales commented upon the speech. Randolph had 



1 John C. Calhoun, by Gaillard Hunt, 1907. 

* Life of John C. Calhoun, by John S. JenkinB, 1850; pp. S9-47. 

* Tucker, Appleton's Cyclopedia of Biography, says: "He [Calhoun] drew a 
report which placed before the oountry the issue c^ war or submission to wrong." 
Henry Adams says. Vol. VI* History, p. 226: ''Calhoun's report was admirable, 
and its clearness of style and statement forced comparisons not flattering to the 
President's message." 



Sl« THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

referred to the rejection of the treaty negotiated by 
Monroe and Pinkney, and had said that the subsequent 
placing of "one of these Commissioners of the United 
States — these very missionaries of peace and con- 
ciUation — into the Executive Councils of the country 
has been the signal of war with Great Britain.** He 
meant Monroe. Gales^ takes this passage as his starting 
point and proceeds to tell of the treaty, its sunmiary 
rejection, Monroe's protest against "this harsh pro- 
ceeding on the part of the Executive, implying an 
undeserved reproach upon him as a Statesman and a 
Minister"; and then comes to Randolph's attempt to 
"place that distinguished citizen in the field as a can- 
didate for the presidency." He continues: 

"Eventually, however, things took a different turn. Before the 
election came on, Mr. Madison became the sole candidate of the 
Republican (JefFersonian) party; and, long before the election 
actually took place, Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe were brought 
together, during the summer vacation, at Monticello, or elsewhere 
in Virginia* — through the instrumentality, as it was then 
generaUy understood, of Mr. Jeflferson — and whatever of cold- 
ness existed between them was entirely removed by amicable 
explanations. We do not know that the friendship of Mr. Randolph 
and Mr. Monroe was by this latter incident turned to enmity, but 
it was sensibly abated. Nor was it at all restored by the acceptance 
by Mr. Monroe of the office of Secretary of State, oflfered to him 

^ Joseph Gales, Jr. (born at Eckm^^ton, England, April 10, 1786; died at Wash- 
ington, D. C, July 21, 1860) was educated at the University of North Carolina; 
learned the printer's trade in Philadelphia and became owner of The National 
Intelligencer. He was joined by his brother-in-law William Winston Seaton (bean 
in King William County, Va., January 11, 1785; died at Washington, December 81, 
1864). A. K. McClure m his ** Recollections of Half a Century,*' 1903, has a 
chapter, "The Eras of Good Feeling and Convulsion," in whidi he tells of Gales, 
Seaton and another great editor of the first half of the nineteenth century, FVaocis 
Preston Blair. Gales, a good stenographer, reported the proceedings of the 
Senate; Seaton, of the House. 

^ Gales is not backed up in this particular by the letters of Jefferson, Madison 
or Monroe. Indeed, he appears to have been misinformed as to the meeting of 
the three statesmen in Virginia. Jefferson and Monroe met (Writings of Monroe, 
V, 110) but Madison was not with them. April 28, 1811, Monroe wrote to Dr. 
Charles D. Everett: "The conduct of the P. since my arrival has correspondcxl 
with my previous anticipation; it is perfectly friendly, and corresponding with 
our antient relation, which I am happy to have restored. On publlck affairs we 
confer without reserve, each party expressing his own sentiments, and viewing 
dispassionately the existing state, animated by a sincere desire to promote the 
public welfare. I have full oonfidence th^t this relatioj^ i^-ill be always preserved 
m the future." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE S13 

by President Madison, midway of his first term of the Presidency 
to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Mr. Secretary 
Smith, in the Spring of 1811. 

"The passage in Mr. Randolph's speech upon which we are 
now remarking was hardly intended in kindness to Mr. Monroe — 
perhaps not in a hostile spirit — but certainly must be taken to 
convey a reflection upon his consistency in regard to the questions 
in controversy between the United States and Great Britain, out 
of which the existing war had sprung. However intended, it is 
due to the truth of history to say that Mr. Randolph hardly over- 
stated the 'fact' when he said that the accession of Mr. Monroe 
to the Cabinet had been the 'signal of war with Great Britain.' 
The connexion of the two events cannot, indeed, be well denied. 
We ourselves do not doubt that the opinions and exertions of 
Mr. Monroe greatly influenced the great event. We have ever 
believed, also, that his course in that trying emergency was most 
honorable to his discernment as well as to his patriotic and fearless 
spirit; and that, therefore, no disparagement could be inferred 
from it to his consistency as a true American statesman. This is 
not the place, nor have we now the time, to undertake to indite the 
unwritten history of that declaration of war. It would make a 
volume itself." 

Gales contents himself with citing a pertinent passage 
from Crittenden's memorial oration on Henry Clay, in 
the course of which the eulogist touched upon the 
position occupied by Monroe when he accepted the 
office of Secretary of State. Monroe had come home 
"thoroughly disgusted with the contemptuous manner 
in which the rights of the United States were treated 
by the belligerent Powers, and especially by England. 
England had reduced to a system "a course of conduct 
calculated to debase and prostrate us in the eyes of the 
world." Crittenden adds: 

"Reasoning thus, he had brought his mind to a serious and 
firm conviction that the rights of the United States, as a nation, 
would never be respected by the Powers of the Old World until 
this Government summoned up resolution to resent such usage, 
not by arguments and protests merely, but by an appeal to arms. 
Full of this sentiment, Mr. Monroe was called, upon a casual 
vacancy, when it was least expected by himself or the country, to 
the head of the Department of State. That sentiment, and the 
feelings which we have thus accounted for, Mr. Monroe soon com- 
municated to his associates in the Cabinet, and in some degree, it 



814 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

might well be supposed, to the great statesman then at the head 
of the Grovemment." 

Monroe had gone dutifully along with JefiPerson and 
Madison as a peace man until he realized that peace 
had become dishonorable. He was for war because war 
was the way out — the last resort. He asserted hinouself 
against Jefferson and Madison. In a different manner, 
he asserted himself as against Randolph, who whimsi- 
cally defended England. 

The chapter of reminiscences in The National 
Intelligencer was a chapter of history; and it is strange 
that it should have been unappreciated until brought 
out by Hunt. Gales heard from it. "A gentleman who 
was a confidential member of the Government at the 
time the speech was made entirely confirmed" what 
Gales said. Gales lost the use of his hand; so William 
W. Moore of The National Intelligencer answered his 
letters for him. One of these letters was addressed to 
Richard K. Cralle, "a wealthy planter in Virginia," 
chief clerk of the Department of State under Cal- 
houn in 1844. Ten years later he was gathering 
material for a life of Calhoun; and, accordingly, wrote 
to Gales concerning his statement that Monroe, not 
Calhoun, had written the war manifesto of 1812. 
Cralle's grandson, J. Lawrence Campbell, of Bedford 
City, West Virginia, supplied Hunt with a letter dic- 
tated by Gales to Moore in reply to Crall6. Moore 
signed it. Gales says: 

"The war manifesto reported in the House of Reps, on the 
third of June, 1812, was the production of Mr. Monroe. Of this 
Mr. Gales is positively certain, as well from other knowledge as 
from his familiarity with the handwriting in which the reix>rt is 
written, being tliat of Mr. Monroe's Private Secretary and Confi- 
dential Clerk. The Select Committee by which this report was 
made had the subject referred to them at the close of the day's 
sitting on the first of June, and submitted their report on the 
opening of the House on the third of June, which fact, taken in 
connection with the importance of the subject and the conciseness 
of the statements of the report, sufficiently indicate the improb- 
ability that the committee could, witliin the brief time that mter- 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 815 

vened after the reference, have deliberated upon the subject, 
prepared the report and had it copied.* 

Moore, the amanuensis, sent Crall6 some "extracts 
from an unpublished article of Mr. Gale's": 

"When Congress assembled in November, 1811, the crisis was 
upon us. . . . The message (Nov. 5) was of the gravest cast, 
reciting the aggressions and aggravations of Great Britain as 
demanding resistance. . . . Whilst Mr. Clay, Mr. Calhoun, and 
others, within the walls of the Capitol were breaking lances with 
the opponents of the preparation for war, there was in operation 
at the further end of the avenue an injQuence less publicly exerted, 
but not less potent, upon the hearts and understandings of the 
younger Members of the House of Reps, and especially upon 
those who composed the Com** on Foreign Relations. Com- 
paratively young and inexperienced in National affairs, they 
natiu*ally resorted to Mr. Monroe, who might be termed, without 
hyperbole, the Nestor of the day, for information and advice as 
to the affairs of which, as Secretary of State, he was the official 
depository and for the lessons of experience he had acquired by 
long service abroad. To these gentlemen, in frequent private 
coimiltations, principally ^t his own abode on the long winter 
nights, he constantly repeated the deep conviction of which I have 
already spoken, of the infinite disgrace which would infallibly 
attend a longer submission to foreign insult and outrage; replying, 
night after night, to every suggestion of postponement, delay 
or renewed attempts at negotiation, 'Gentlemen, we miist JigM. 
We are forever disgraced tf we do not; disgraced in our own 
estimation, in the ^es of our adversary, and in the opinion of the 
world*. . . . Chiefly through the fearless influence of the counsels 
of these ardent patriots, the House of Reps., on whose decision as 
originator of all measures of revenue the prosecution of war must 
depend, was gradually warmed up a war spirit. ... At length, 
after private conference, a deputation of Members of Congress, 
with Mr. Clay at their head, waited upon the President, and, upon 
the representations of the readiness of a majority of Congress to 
vote tie war if recommended, the President, on the first Monday 
in June, transmitted to Congress his message submitting the 
question to their decision. The agency of IVIr. Monroe in this 
measure was not yet at an end; for the Comm** on Foreign 
Relations, to whom the President's message was referred, had 
prevailed upon the Secretary as being more fully possessed than 
themselves of the facts and merits of the question, to prepare a 

^The members of the Committee were Calhomi, Grundy, Smilie, Harper, 
Desha, Server, Bepublicans; and Porter, Randolph and Key. Porter was home» 



816 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Bcport upon the meaaage; idudi BqxMt was presented to the 
House of Beps. by the oommittee, as their repc^ on the second 
day after the reception of the message, and had been (from its 
length) evidently prepared, if not adopted, by the Conunittee 
before the message was sent in. It was an ddborate Manifesto 
filling ten or tw^e printed pages." 

The Federalists protested in the press and at public 
meetings against the war. They had the sympathy <rf 
Randolph's followers and of the factional Republicans. 
Altogether they made an imposing show of opposition. 
It was more than a show — it was actual; it was 
chillingly oppressive; it was almost enough to take 
the heart out of those who were responsible for the 
conduct of the war. Madison, in his letters, repeatedly 
speaks of the sinister influence of the New England 
opposition. As Parke Godwin^ expresses it: "The 
scenes of battle on the ocean, or on the frontier, were 
scarcely more fiery than those in Congress and the 

C)pular assemblies." William Cullen Bryant, then a 
w student in the oflSce of Congressman William 
Baylies, of Bridgewater, Conn., betrayed "an insatiable 
curiosity in regard to the progress of events.'* He 
writes of the President as "His Imbecility," and tells 
Baylies in Washington that "the subject of the sepa- 
ration of the States is more boldly and frequently 
discussed." He himself wants to go into the army — 
not for the defense of the General Government but of 
the State of Connecticut. In reading the letters of 
so true a man and genuine a patriot as Bryant, we 
begin to understand what at first flush is hardly under- 
standable — the threat of disunion at the Hartford 
Convention. "From the origin of the government," 
says Godwin, "the Republicans had professed them- 
selves the opponents of Nationalism or Centralism and 
the particular defenders of the rights, or, as it was 
called, the sovereignty of the States. On the other 
hand, the Federalists, as their name imports, were 
sticklers for central supremacy and local subordination." 

^ Life of William Cullen Bryant, by Parke Godwin. 2 vols.. Vol. I, pp. 126,127. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 817 

Now all was whirled about, so that the very opposite 
was the case. 

The Federalist contention was that Madison went 
to war because he hoped thus to keep his party in 
power; that war was begun with undue preparation; 
that if we must fight we should fight France, not 
England, whose extreme measures were excusable since 
she was in the throes of combat with the mad 
Napoleon. 

The Republican reply was that things had come to 
such a pass^ as to make peace a hissing and a by- word ; 
that America ought to fight both France and England, 
but that to wrestle with one at a time was the dictate 
of common sense ; that the Federalists would see, if they 
were not as blind as bats, that the British meant to 
monopolize the ocean to the detriment, yea, absolute 
destruction, of New England's shipping; and that, 
though it was a pity to be obliged to draw the sword 
that Jefferson had allowed to rust, the rust would soon 
wear off and the sword be as bright and glorious as in 
the Revolution. Thus said the "War Hawks'* of 
Congress. According to Benjamin Perry, when Madison 
sent in his message. Clay, Calhoun, Cheves, Bibb, 
Grundy and Lowndes who messed together and were 
called the " War Mess, " joined hands, k la ring-around- 
the-rosy, and then and there danced all over the floor. 
They were eager to wipe out all American stains, all 
contiunelies due in part to the pacifism of the Monti- 
cello philosopher and in part to the pressure of what 
Jefferson called the Federalist "anglomen," or as we 
would call them Anglomaniacs. "Party politics were 
inexpressibly violent." It was Theodore Parker who, 
in 1852, in his discourse on the death of Daniel Webster, 
said: 

**An eminent lawyer of Salem [Mass.], afterwards one of the 
most distinguished jurists in the World, a Democrat, was on 



1 Some 2500 Americans, held on British vessels, were sent to Dartmoor prison 
at the outbreak of the war. "Over 6000 cases of impressment were recorded in 
the Department of State." 



818 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

aooount of his political opinions, knocked down m the street, 
beaten and forced to take shelter in the house of a friend, whither 
he fled, bleeding and covered with the mud of the streets. Political 
rancor invaded private life; it invaded the pulpit; it blinded men's 
eyes to a degree almost exceeding belief; were it not now a fact 
we should not believe it possible at a former time.'' 

With the Federalists there was a great veneration 
for England. Said Fisher Ames: ^^The immortal spirit 
of the wood-nymph Liberty dwells only in the British 
Oak. . . . Our Comitry is too big for union, too sordid 
for patriotism and too democratic for Uberty." 

But, in spite of the opposition, Madison was re- 
elected. His opponent was De Witt Clinton, a factional 
Republican, whom the Federalists supported. Madison 
was given one hundred and twenty-eight of the two 
hundred and eighteen electoral votes. Elbridge (Jerry 
was chosen Vice-President. 

There were surprises for each side from the very start. 
The British had no idea that the Americans would 
challenge them on the wide ocean. What happened 
was: that in an eight-minutes' fight, August 13, the 
"Essex," Captain David Porter, captured the British 
sloop "Alert;" the forty-four-gim "Constitution," Cap- 
tain Isaac Hull, August 19, captured the thirty-eight-gun 
"Guerriere," and so it went like a thrilling sea serial, 
with a victory in every chapter. The Yankee "Wasp," 
October 13, finished the British "Frolic," and she dis- 
ported herself tauntingly on the waves no more. So, too, 
with a great thundering off Madeira, October 25, the frig- 
ate "United States," Captain Stephen Decatur, took the 
frigate "Macedonian." By this time the "Constitution," 
now under Captain William Bainbridge, was off the 
coast of Brazil and there, December 29, she fell in 
with and demolished the British frigate "Java." This 
long series of victories on the sea was marred for the 
Americans by but one heavy blow. After Captain 
Lawrence, in the "Hornet," had sunk the "Peacock" and 
had been transferred to the "Chesapeake," he lost that 
frigate, June 1, 1813, to the "Shannon," Captain PliiUp 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 819 

Broke. By reason of his victory, Broke^ became a 
baronet; by reason of his last command: "Don't give 
up the ship/' the dying Lawrence became one of 
the immortals. It was all the more gratifying to the 
Americans to learn of these naval victories because the 
sea had been the scene of their humiliations. They 
heard with astonishment and delight of the cruise of 
the "Essex" in Pacific waters, where David Farragut was 
making his heroic debut; and the news of the victories 
of "Old Ironsides'* imder Captain Stewart gave them 
great joy.* 

Now America's declaration of war had seemed " sheer 
madness" to the English when they first heard of it; 
but by and by Wellington said: "I have been very 
imeasy about the American naval successes. I think 
we should have peace with America before the season 
for opening the campaign in Canada if we could take 
one or two of those d — — d frigates."* 

But it was quite a while before any one felt the 
significance of the sea victories.* On land the war 
dragged; and, as we have said, the Americans had a 
surprise, too. Clay and the sanguine Westerners had 
anticipated an easy conquest of Canada. Neither 
JeflFerson nor Clay had read Revolutionary history to 
advantage or they would not have talked in such a 
sanguine vein about Canada. JefiPerson declared its 
acquisition would be a mere matter of marching. The 
querulous Randolph said that he was tired of hearing 
"but one word, like the whippoorwill, but one eternal 
monotono us tone — Canada, Canada, Canada!" The 

1 Memoirs of Admiral Sir P. B. V. Broke, Bart., by Rev. F. G. Brighton, M.D 
Captain James Lawrence, by Albert Cleaves, 1804. Secretary Monroe, in Wash- 
ington, July 4, 1813, gave this toast: "To the memory of Captain Lawrence whose 
last words were 'Sink the ship sooner than surrender her!' (Sic), p. 835. 

> See the Naval War of 1812 by Theodore Roosevelt, 1882, 2 vols.; and Sea 
Power in iU Relation to the War of 1812, by CapUin A. T. Mahan, 2 vols., 1905. 
Mahan says that Monroe had advanced views for one of his party oonoeming the 
utility of the navy. 

* Duke of Wellington to Marshal Beresford, February 6^ 1818. Wdlington's 
Despatches, 1838, Vol. X, p. 92. 

* George Coggeshall in his "History of the American Privateers," 1856, lists 
250 sail sent out from various ports. He says that the British lost about 2000 
abjipg during the war. 



320 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

French-Canadians, said the " War Hawks/' would sdse 
the opportunity to rise. The six hundred thousand 
Canadians would gladly join their seven million 
American neighbors. But nothing of the sort happened. 
The Canadians got rid of their cannon-balls and 
musket-balls fast enough, but not of their British yoke. 
Instead of gaining Canada, it looked as though the 
Ai lericans might lose the whole northwestern territory. 
The British began by taking Michillimackinac. This 
was a mere outpost, of little seeming account, but to 
the watchful Indians it was significant. Tecumseh, 
his brother the Prophet and their numerous chiefs and 
warriors would now let themselves loose. This thought 
must have been in the mind of Captain William Hull, 
a Revolutionary soldier, who, in obedience to orders, 
built a road two hundred miles long through the forest 
to Detroit, the keypoint of the Michigan region, only 
to surrender that post, without a fight, to Sir Isaac 
Brock.^ Hull, by no means blameless, was unhardened 
to his task. He was "cankered by a long peace," just 
as were many others — oflScers of the old war, in which 
they had served when in their heyday. They were 
politicians who had been honored and often over- 
honored for past services and who, when suddenly 
called upon to live up to their exaggerated reputations, 
collapsed under pressure of stern and bloody require- 
ments. War is no soft, chivalric thing, as hero-tales 
often lead us to imagine, but essentially mathematical, 
strategical, hard and death-dealing. Hull, Dearborn 
and most of the other incompetents of 1812 and 1813 
were of this description. Hull was court-martialed and 
sentenced to be shot;* thanks to Madison, the sentence 
was not executed. Hull's plea was that if the Indians, 

^ Major-Geiieral Sir Isaac Brock, bom in the Isle of Guernsey in 1769; in the 
British army before he was sixteen; dieti in battle October 18, 1812. 

' If a Hull had disgraced America at Detroit, another Hull, his nephew. Com- 
modore Isaac, had won a most glorious victory at sea: and would continue to win 
victories. The Hull side of General William Hull's di.soomfiture is told in "Tlie 
Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of Gen. Wm. Hull," prepared from his Ms . 
by his daughter, Mrs. Maria Camjibcll, to^'et^ler with a history of the surrender 
of the Puat of Detroit, by his grandson, James Freeman Clarke, 1848. 



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THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 821 

who surrounded Detroit, had taken it, tomahawk in 
hand, they would have massacred the women and 
children who had sought refuge there. But nobody 
thought of this. All they knew was that disaster had 
overtaken them in that part of the Canadian border, 
which was a thousand mUes long. Doubts arose. There 
were but ten regular regiments, and these were short 
of men. People realized the country's unpreparedness 
— that it was beset with enemies. Before news came 
in from the ocean, the outlook was blue indeed. 

In less than two months, all doubts resolved them- 
selves into downright disasters. The war was unsup- 
ported in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode 
Island, which declined to send their quotas of troops. 
Federalists there proclaimed it a party, not a national, 
war.^ There was lack of vigor among those whose 
bounden duty it was to be alert. There was mis judg- 
ment in the selection of both high officials and high 
officers. William Eustis of Boston was Secretary of 
War. Ex-surgeon, ex-congressman, he was fifty-six 
years old — two years older than Monroe. Paul 
Hamilton, gentleman, of South Carolina, was also an 
"ex" — ex-governor. Seeing that the JefiPersonian 
'* cankers of a long peace" had eaten away the strength 
of both army and navy, the responsible heads of those 
departments should have been men of force and initia- 
tive. But neither JeflFerson nor Madison had the 
soldier instinct, and political considerations, rather 
than fitness, too often influenced them in their choice 
of those who held the war and naval portfolios. 

Major-General Henry Dearborn was in chief com- 
mand of the American Army. He had failed to co- 
operate with Hull. The Fort that bore his name, now 
Chicago, was abandoned on the day Detroit was sur- 
rendered. Dearborn, as we have intimated, was 



^ It WBfl oontemptuoualy called '*Mr. MadiBon's War." Chanoellor Kent, 
Federalist, wrote that "the surge of Jaoobinism which had swept over the country, 
and under the leadership of Madison had plunged the United States into War 
with England, had made him weary of juoicial life." Memoirs and Letters <^ 
Chancellor James Kent, by William Kent. 1808. 



82S THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

unequal to his task, which, for that matter, few men 
could have executed since there was so small and so 
ill-disciplined a force. He was sixty-one years old. He 
had but sixty-seven hundred regulars. Nor were these 
model troops. General Winfield Scott, in his Memoirs, 
speaks disparagingly of officers and men. Sloth, with 
the handy flask, had made for flabbiness of character 
as well as muscle. Dearborn^ was a highly respectable 
and much esteemed man; but he was lacking in the 
chief qualities of vigorous leadership. "His movements 
were sluggish and his plans hazy," says Babcock;' 
"and for a time he seemed to be on lie eve of an 
accommodation which would end the war.' He lingered 
long in New England and longer still at Plattsburg when 
he should have been at Niagara. The plans contem- 
plated a double invasion of Canada — on the Detroit 
frontier and on the Niagara frontier. The first was 
already a failure. For a long time, most of the fighting 
would be in the vicinity of Niagara Falls. 

General Stephen Van Rensselaer was in command in 
that pivotal quarter. Monroe spoke of him as "a 
weak and incompetent man of high pretensions.** 
At Queenstown Heights, October 13, Van Rensselaer 
lost a tho usand men. But this loss was oflFset by the 

^ Major-General Henry Dearborn was bom at North Hampton, New Hanmahire, 
in 1751. He was taU, sinewy — an unmatched \vTestler. A Captain in Starics regi- 
ment at Bunker Hill, he accompanied the Quebec Expedition and killed his dog, a 
fine animal, that his starving comrades might have fo«d. He served with Scamm^ 
and fought shoulder to shoulder with Dan Morgan at Saratoga. He was at German- 
town, Valley Forge, Monmouth and Yorktown. Talle^Tand, while Dearbom*s 
guest at Pittston, Mass., "fell into the river while fishing at Hallowell and was 
saved by a little boy holding to him his fishing rod.*' Fort Dearborn, (Chicago) 
was named in General Dearborn's honor. A log cabin and fort stood there in 180S. 
The cabin was owned and occupied by Pierre Le May, a French Canadian trader, 
and his Indian wife. Capt. John Whistler and company of the First Regiment, 
U. S. A., first occupied the fort. General Dearborn married the widow of the 
excellent Governor Bowdoin, patron of Bowdoin College. Bowdoin mansion stood 
in Milk Street, Boston, on the site of Bowdoin block. K. C. Winthrop was bom in 
this house. The younger Henry A. S. Dearborn, son of General Henry, was likewise 
distinguished. 

'The Rise of American Nationality, by Kendrick Charles Babcock, 1900. 
** American Nation Series, Vol. 13." 

•Suggested by Sir Georse Prevost (made Governor-General, September 14, 
1811) when he heard that the British Ministry had withdrawn the objectionable 
Orders in Council. But Madison put an end to the proposed truce. MonzM 
"explained the situation to the British Minister.** 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 828 

loss to the British of their very best commander on the 
American continent — Sir Isaac Brock. General Alex- 
ander Smyth succeeded Van Rensselaer, but was even 
less fitted for the work. One of the "War Hawks," 
Peter B. Porter, who had left Congress for the front, 
called him a coward; so they fought a duel, and Smyth's 
name was speedily thereafter dropped from the roster. 
As for Dearborn, whose futile attempt to organize a 
Montreal expedition had brought him only discredit, 
that unfortunate officer again failed in his operations 
along the southern shore of Lake Ontario. What is 
now Toronto was then York. This place Dearborn 
took, but when the magazine there exploded. General 
Zebulon M. Pike was killed. The Government building, 
too, was burned — an incident that was to have a 
smoky sequel by Potomac side. Dearborn's day was 
done; and who should succeed him but Wilkinson? 
Though not in the pay of the King of Spain at this 
particular time, nor plotting with Burr, he was blunder- 
ing as usual; and by and by he was up before a court- 
martial. His day was done, as well as Dearborn's. 
Monroe, watching the progress of events, wrote as 
helpfully as he could to Dearborn and others; but his 
letters about Wilkinson^ were addressed to the man at 
Monticello. The newspapers were reviewing Wilkin- 
son's treason, and Monroe had seen references to 
Jefferson concerning which that worthy ought to 
know. It was one of his many friendly acts toward 
Jefferson. 

Let it not be thought that Madison, Monroe and 
other responsible officials remained unconcerned while 
the blunderers were blundering. Their letters indicate 
how keenly they felt the reverses on the Canadian 
border — how shocked they were at such tragedies as 
that at Raisin River, January 22, 1813, when but forty 
of six hundred and sixty frontiersmen escaped the 
scalping knife, and that at Fort Mims, Ala., in August 



^ Worki of Monroe, Hamilton, Volume V, pp. 107, 109, 200^ 878. 



824 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

of the same year, when four hundred souls were 
massacred by a thousand Creeks. 

As early as August 8, 1812, Madison wrote to Monroe 
from Montpelier suggesting that he take general com- 
mand. In the "Monroe Correspondence" of the 
Bureau of Rolls, pages 146-156, are many letters from 
Madison to Monroe relating to the conduct of the war. 
September 6, 1812, Madison insisted that a suitable 
head was required. Monroe, said he, was the best 
man for the big work. Madison realized, as did others 
who were brought into contact with Monroe, that he 
had been broadened by his experiences oversea. 

Cabinet reorganization was proposed. Monroe was 
to be made Secretary of War, and Gallatin was to 
succeed him as Secretary of State. But Madison feared 
that the Senate would not accept this re-arrange- 
ment.^ 

In December, 1813, Paul Hamilton was relieved of 
the Navy portfolio which was given to a Philadelphia 
ship-owner, William Jones. General John Armstrong, 
whom we but lately met in France, succeeded Eustis as 
Secretary of War. Manifestly, Madison was injudicious 
in his choice of such men as James Winchester, of 
Tennessee, when General William Henry Harrison was 
at his service to command in the Northwest. He was 
forced to take Harrison finally. Adams, in his 
" Gallatin'* shows that Madison had doubts from the 
start with respect to Armstrong. "Monroe," says 
K. C. Babcock,^ "desired the War portfolio since the 
State Department did not furnish sufficient scope for 
his talents while the most active field of diplomacy 
was closed by the war. Although, for political reasons, 
Madison did not comply, jealousy and suspicion 
between Monroe and Armstrong had a detrimental 
effect upon the military service.'* 



^ "Monroe's service at the head of the State Department was interrupted by 
four assignments to act as Secretary of War'' Gaillard Uunt, Life of Ma^i^n, 
p. 339. 

' Rise of American Nationality, p. 97. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 825 

Let us give Gaillard Hunt's estimate of Armstrong: 



"The objections to him were fatal to his usefidness. Long dip- 
lomatic service in which his ability was conspicuous had not fitted 
him for duty as an executive officer when quick decision and 
action were needed. He was an indolent man and energy was 
needed, and he was a member of the Clinton faction in New York, 
and loyal co-operation in the cabinet was essential. He was 
unpopular in the West, and his nomination was confirmed by a 
majority of three votes only, both Kentucky Senators voting 
against him; and Kentucky under Henry Clay's leadership was 
the most enthusiastic State in the Union in support of the War. 
Monroe, Gallatin and Jones, the new Secretary of the Navy all 
distrusted Armstrong.'** 

In a letter to Jefferson, June 7, 1813, Monroe told 
him what he had said to Madison when Madison 
proposed to make him commanding general: 

'^I stated that if it was thought necessary to remove me from 
my present station in the idea that I had some miUtary experience, 
and a change in the command of the troops was resolved on, I 
would prefer it to the Department of War in the persuasion that I 
mig^t be more useful. In the Department of War a man might 
form a plan of campaign and write judicious letters on military 
operations; but still these were nothing but essays — everything 
would depend on execution. I thought that with the army I should 
have better control over operations and events, and might even 
aid, so far as I could give aid at all, the person in the Department 
of War. I offered to repair instantly to the Northern army, to use 
my best efforts to form it, to promote the recruiting business in 
the Eastern States, to conciliate the people to the views of the 
Government, and unite them so far as it might be possible in the 
war. The President was of the opinion that if I quitted my present 
station, I ought to take the command of the army. It being neces- 
sary to place some one immediately in the Department of War 
to supply the vacancy made by Mr. Eustis's retreat, the Presi- 
dent requested me to take it 'pro tempore, leaving the ultimate 
decision on the other question open to further consideration. I did 
so." 

His son-in-law, the able Judge George Hay, wrote 
from Richmond, September 22:* 

"It is rumored here that you are to be appointed lieutenant- 
general. Such an appointment would give, I believe, universal 

1 Hunt's Madiflon, p. 880. 

' Monroe Mst., State Department Arcliivet. 



826 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

satisfaction. • • • This is indeed a critical moment. Some great 
effort must be made. Unless something important is aone, 
Mr. Madison may be elected again, but he will not be able to g^ 
along. But Mr. Madison ought not to exact any further sacrifices 
from you. If you go into tiie army, you ought to go with the 
supreme power in your hand. I would not organize an army for 
Dearborn or for anyone else. Mr. Madison ou^t not to expect it, 
and if he did I would flatly and directly reject the proposal. 
Everybody is looking forward to an event of this kind, and I do 
not believe that any man calculates that you are to go in a subor- 
dinate character. The truth is that Dearborn is laughed at, not 
by Federalists but by zealous Republicans. I do not give on this 
subject a reluctant, hesitating opmion. I am clear that if you go 
into the army (about which I say nothing), you should go as 
commander-in-chief. '* 

"The only member of the Cabinet who had any 
knowledge of military matters, " says Colonel Thomas 
Wentworth Higginson, "was Colonel James Monroe, 
Secretary of State; and it was subsequently thought 
that he knew just enough to be in the way. ** The tart 
reference is to a minor incident at the Battle of Bladens- 
burg, to which we shall come by and by. As to Monroe's 
military knowledge, it must have been considerable; 
but he had never managed large bodies of men; he 
had never planned or executed a strategical campaign; 
nor had he ever been in a critical situation with the fate 
of other commands than his own depending upon his 
orders. He had doffed his uniform in his early twenties; 
he was now fifty-six. It was probably fortunate for him 
that he remained in the cabinet instead of following the 
impulses of his patriotism and his honorable ambition 
which, undoubtedly, were to proceed to the front. 
Others in civilian clothes have wished for uniforms. 
For example, one brings to mind Jefferson Davis. 
He had been a soldier in the Mexican war, and a good 
one. Therefore, he itched to be out of Richmond and 
with the army. That was why he ventured upon the 
battlefield of the first Bull Run. Again on the morning 
of the battle of Mechanicsville, when Lee had set afoot 
his series of combats designed to drive McClellan out 
of the Peninsula, Davis rode with his imposing staff 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 827 

to tlie spot where Lee stood busy with his pressing 
duties. Lee gave one over-the-shoulder look at the 
party, but no more. "Take those people to the rear!" 
said he. After that Davis never interfered on the field. 

Now at last, however, had come a change in the 
untoward run of events. The change was due to the 
energetic carriage of iron, canvas, cordage and arma- 
ment all the way from the seaboard through the wilder- 
ness to Presque Isle (Erie); the transfer thither of 
Atlantic Coast shipwrights and sailors; the construction 
and manning of a fleet of ten war vessels, and, finally, 
to the genuine seamanship and fighting genius of 
Captain Oliver Howard Perry. Commodore Isaac 
Chaimcey, operating against Sir James Yeo, had done 
considerable good for the American cause on Lake 
Ontario; but, on Lake Erie, Perry now made a master- 
stroke. He engaged the British fleet, under Captain 
R. H. Barclay, Monday, August 5, 1813; and by and by 
sent word to General William Henry Harrison: "We 
have met the enemy, and they are ours; two ships, two 
brigs, one schooner and one sloop." "It was Perry, 
says John Fiske, "who turned the scales of war. 
The multitudes of hostile Indians were startled to see 
the King's "big canoes'* swept from the lake. Harrison 
realized his opportunity to win back the Detroit 
frontier; and, indeed, the whole Northwest. Harrison, 
a Hampden-Sydney man, (Wayne's aide in 1792) was 
tall, slender, with high forehead and dark eyes. He 
had gone thi^ugh much that was arduous and bloody 
on the border, tiien the scene of dramatic and thrilling 
incidents. 

No sooner had Perry opened the way for him than 
Harrison entered Canada on the heels of the British 
General, Henry Proctor. Babcock says that Tecumseh 
felt contemptuous toward Proctor because he retreated 
when Harrison, with Governor Shelby of Tennessee 
and Perry at the head of his sailors, started in pursuit 
of him. Fearless men were Tecumseh (the Crouching 
Panther), Chief of the Shawnees, and his brother Olli- 



99 



828 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

wacha, the prophet. Their word flew like a spark along 
the border and fired the fuse for such disasters as 
Fort Mims and Raisin River. But Proctor was skulking 
away and Tecumseh likened him to ^* a fat animal that 
carries its tail upon its back, but when affrighted it 
drops it between its legs and runs off." 

Harrison overtook Proctor near Moraviantown on 
the River Thames.^ The Johnson brothers led Harri- 
son's two columns — Colonel Richard M., the left, and 
Colonel James, the right. It was Colonel "Dick** who 
encountered Tecumseh and slew him with his own 
hand.* Tecumseh, on foot, shot at Johnson on his 
white horse (by this time stimg with many bullets) and 
then raised his tomahawk to hurl it, but the Kentuckian 
was too quick for the Shawnee chief. He pistoled him 
ere his tomahawk left his hand. 

Which was the greater loss to the British — Brock 
or Tecumseh? One might speculate interminably on 
the question. Brock had the gift of leadership; so had 
Tecumseh, who was possessed of an inveterate hostility 
to our people from the Lakes to the Gulf. The elimina- 
tion of these men seemed like a heaven-send. 

Younger and more spirited men had revivified 
Congress; why not rejuvenate the army? The answer 
was the appointment of two major-generals — Izard 
and Brown — and six brigadiers, among whom were 
Scott, Macomb and Gaines. Brown and Scott proved 
to be the very commanders the country had been 
praying for. Major-General Jacob Brown was a Bucks 
County, Pennsylvania, Quaker. To show how cou- 
rageous he was, though in bed at Buffalo, badly wounded, 
during a critical week of his campaign, he issued his 
orders with unmitigated pugnacity and prevision. 

^ Harrison helped himself toward the Presidency by this battle and Gjl. R. BL 
Johnson, who served in the Thirteenth Congress toward the Vice Presidency. 
• The old rhyme ran: 

Rumpsey dumpsey 
Col. Johnson killed Tecumseh. 
Life of Ben Hardin, by Lucius P. Little, 1887. Doubt has been thrown on the 
ftory as to Johnson's act. He slew a powerful chief in the fight, but his victim may 
not have been Tecumseh. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 829 

Scott, a big-bodied Virginian, famous for fifty years of 
his soldier life — spanning as he did the stretch of time 
from Washington to Lincoln — was at the head of 
Brown's First Brigade; and Eleazar Wheelock Ripley, 
of New Hampshire, was at the head of the Second. 
Scott was impetuous; Ripley, wary. With them 
marched Porter's brigade of six hundred warriors of 
the Six Nations, under Chief Red Jacket, and six 
hundred militia from Pennsylvania. Colonel Hindman, 
with four companies of artillery, handled the field- 
pieces. On the open plain of Chippewa, hard by 
Niagara Falls, July 5, Brown won a three-hour battle 
over Riall's Royal Scots and Dragoons. On July 25, 
the British Major-General, Gordon Dnmmiond, having 
meantime joined Riall with fresh regiments, was fought 
the seven-hour battle of Lundy's Lane, also near the 
Falls of Niagara. Though it was a drawn battle, with 
nearly all the chief oflScers wounded, people rejoiced 
over it as evidence that once more our troops were up 
to their old mark of dauntlessness. Similarly, at Fort 
Erie, in August and September, Brown met with 
deserved success. 

The fall of Napoleon set free tens of thousands of 
British troops. It was decided by the British Govern- 
ment to use three powerful contingents of these highly 
disciplined soldiers in a final effort to dictate a strong 
peace in America. Some were to proceed to Canada 
to invade the States from the north; some were to 
attack the cities along the Atlantic Coast, and others 
were to proceed to New Orleans, with the idea of 
relieving the Americans of their recent Louisiana 
bargain. The thrust from the north was to be vigorous 
and vicious, in a military sense, and so was that from 
the south, but the expedition against the coast cities 
was to have a light military, yet heavy punitive, touch. 
Sir John Borlase Warren,^ Admiral of the Blue, with 
headquarters at Halifax, had long blockaded these 

^For Wairen-Monroe Conespondenoe see American SUta Papers. Vol. m. 
pp. 5U5. 596. 



SSO THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

ports to the detriment of their trade, and since FebruaTy« 
1813, had been especially active in the Chesapeake. 
Through him and in other ways, the directing heEtds 
in London had learned of the inadequate defenses in 
this bay, which marauding parties had penetrated 
from the Virginia Capes to the mouth of the Susque- 
hanna River. 

Let us note first the attack along the line of Lake 
Champlain — Buj-goyne's line. Li 1777 the British 
plan was to cut New England oflF from the rest of the 
coimtry. In 1814 the strategy was similar; though the 
Hartford Convention did not meet until December 15 
of that year, sedition was ripe.^ The British hoped 
that they could help separate the sections by a success- 
ful occupation of the Hudson River Valley. 

But these great expectations came to naught. 
General Alexander Macomb and Lieutenant Thomas 
MacDonough, a hero after the American's own heart, 
balked the eflForts of Sir George Prevost with his army 
of eleven thousand men and Captain George Downie 
who commanded on Lake Champlain. MacDonough 
with an eighty-six-gun flotilla beat the British fleet carry- 
ing ninety guns. Downie was killed. General Prevost 
precipitately retreated, his campaign collapsing over 
night. Perhaps, in his dreams, he thought himself 
another Burgoyne. As it was, his failure must have 
been much in the minds of those who put their heads 
together at Ghent. 

As for General George Izard, it was his misfortune 
to be wit hdrawn from Prevost's front, and dispatched 

^ Babcock in the Rise of American Nationality says, p. 165: "To the more 
advanced Republicans like Grundy and Calhoun, the Federalist opposition, cul- 
minating in the Hartford Convention amounted to moral treason, while John 
Quincy Adams passionately asserted, in 18'20, that the Hartford Convention was 
unconstitutional and treasonable, wholly abnormal, hideous and wicked." William 
Wirt said of Madison (Kennedy's Wirt, Vol. I, p. S'J9): "He looks miserable, shat- 
tered and woebegone. . . . His mind is full of the New England Sedition. He intro- 
duced the subject and continued to press it, painful as it obviously was to him." 
"Monroe, however," adds Babcock, "was less pessimistic. Late in December he 
wrote (Writings, IV, p. 305): *The gentry will, I suspect, find they have overacted 
their part. They cannot dismember the Union, or league with the enemy. ... I 
hope that the leaders will soon take rank in society with Burr, and others of that 
stamp. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 831 

by Secretary Armstrong on a needless march to Sadcett's 
Harbor. According to Henry Adams: 

"Izard was a friend of Monroe's/ and was therefore an object 
of Armstrong's merciless criticism. Brown was a favorite of 
Armstrong, and shared his prejudices. The position of Izard at 
Buffalo was calculated to excite jealousy. He had implicitly 
obeyed the wishes of Armstrong and Brown; in so doing he had 
sacrificed himself, yielding to Macomb the credit of repulsing 
Prevost, and to Brown, who did not wait his arrival, the credit 
of repulsing Drummond. As far as could be seen, Izard had acted 
with loyalty toward both Armstrong and Brown; yet both dis- 
trusted him. . • . Izard felt the mortification of his failure." 

General Izard resigned; and, though his resignation 
was not accepted, he was practically out of the opera- 
tions thereafter on the Canadian border. Izard wrote 
many letters to Monroe, during the fall of 1814.* 

Very diflFerent was the attack on the Atlantic sea* 
board. The stroke was directed at the Chesapeake 
country, and one of the objectives was the American 
capital. Baltimore, too, was to be taken; and then, if 
the nest of pernicious frigate-builders at Philadelphia 
could be broken up, so much the better. It may be 
said, in passing, that the Philadelphians, whether soft- 
handed or hard, volunteered by the thousand and, 
working without pay, put their port and river in a 
complete state of defense. 

Bermuda was the British base for the Chesapeake 
operations. General Robert Ross, who had been with 
Sir John Moore at Corunna, sailed from Bordeaux with 
thirty-five hundred of Wellington's veterans. Gleig,* 
the literary chaplain and Wellington's biographer, was 
with the expedition; so that we have the British side 
of the story both with respect to the adventure of Ross 
in the Chesapeake and the equally tragic last act of 
Sir Edward Packenham's New Orleans drama. The 
British squadron was under Sir Alexander Cochrane. 

^ H. Adams, History, Vol. VUl, p. 114, el seq, 

* Izard Correspondence, Izard to Monroe, October 18, £S, November 20, De- 
cember 18; as quoted in H. Adams, History Vol. VIII. 

> The Campaign of the British Army at Washington and New Orleani* by G. R> 
Gldg, Chaplain. 



332 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

The lower Chesapeake was soon white with British 
sails. A thousand marines under Admiral Greorge 
Cockbum joined Ross, whose force seemed very large 
indeed to one of the two Joshuas then in the bay. The 
fighting Joshua was Commodore Joshua Barney with 
a considerable flotilla, which took itself oflF and hid 
under the timbered banks of the beautiful Patuxent 
The praying Joshua was Joshua Thomas, "Parson of 
the Isles," who welcomed the thousand of redcoats 
ashore on the beach of Tangier. He preached to the 
heroes of the Peninsular campaign; told them of their 
sins; and advised them not to try to go to Baltimore. 
Why? For one thing, they couldn't. For another, they 
had better hurry home, where they belonged. But the 
British ships spread their sails again and, like Admiral 
Lord Howe's fleet thirty-seven years before, passed up 
the Chesapeake and entered the Patuxent. August 18, 
Admiral Cochrane wrote to Monroe that he had been 
called upon by the Governor-General of Canada to 
retaliate upon the United States for damage done by 
American troops in Canadian territory. He had been 
obliged to issue to the naval force under his command 
"an order to destroy and lay waste such towns and 
districts as may be found assailable." This did not 
look as though the "Parson of the Isles" had made 
much impression upon the vengeful Admiral. On the 
nineteenth, twenty-four vessels, with four thousand 
men, proceeded up stream to Benedict, forty miles 
southeast of Washington. Sir Henry Smith, one of 
the officers,^ found the Patuxent "serpentine and 
wooded." Coincidently, other British ships were 
passing up the Potomac 

But what were Madison and Monroe and the "War 
Hawks" doing all this time.^ The "War Hawks" were 
absent, as it was in the summer recess of Congress. 
Madison was at the White House with his wife. On 
August 20, Monroe took a party of dragoons — some 
twenty-fiv e or thirty — and reconnoitred in the direc- 

^ Autobiography of Sir H. Smith, 1901. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE SS8 

tion of Benedict. He must have thought of the time 
when he scouted in the pleasant company of Captain 
William Washington. Evidently, Monroe had not 
forgotten how to gather information. He wrote to the 
President from Horse Road, on the twenty-first: 

''I quartered last night near Charlotte Hall, and took a view 
this morning at eight o'clock, from a commanding height, below 
Benedict creek, of all the enemy's shipping near the town, and down 
the river the distance of at least 8 or 10 miles. I counted 23 sq : 
rigged vessels. Few others were to be seen, and very few barges. 
I inferred from the latter circumstance that the enemy had 
moved up the river, either against Com. Barrv's [Barney's] 
flotilla, at Nottingham, confining their views to that object, or 
taking that in their way and aiming at the city, in combination 
with the force on the Powtowmac, of which I have correct infor- 
mation. I had, when I left Aquosco Mills last night, intended 
to have passed over the Powtowmac, after giving you an account 
of the vessels from the height below Benedict; but on observing 
the very tranquil scene which I have mentioned, I was led by the 
inference I draw from it to hasten back to take a view of the 
enemy's movements in this quarter, which it might be more 
important to the Govt, to be made acquainted with. I am now 
on the main road from Washington to Benedict, 1£ miles from 
the latter, and find that no troops have passed in this direction. The 
reports make it probable that a force by land and water had been 
sent against the flotilla. ' 

Next day Monroe notified Madison that "imminent 
danger threatened the Capital," advised the removal 
of the Government records and suggested that materials 
be in readiness for the destruction of the bridges.* It 
seems strange to us at this day that no considerable 
army was available for the defense of Washington. 
Citing a letter from Winder to Armstrong*, Adams 
says: "A thousand determined men might reach the 
town in thirty-six hours, and destroy it before any 
general alarm could be given. . . . Armstrong neg- 
lected to fortify. After experience had proved his 
error, he still argued in writing to a committee of 
Congress that fortifications would have exhausted the 

* Giliiian*s Monroe, p. 117. 

* Dated July 9, 1814, SUte Papers, Military Affairs, I« 543; Adams, History, 
Vol. VIU, Chapter V, "BladeDsburg." pp. Id0-14a 



834 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

Treasury; *that bayonets are known to form the most 
efficient barriers/ He did not even provide the bayonets. 
. . . Being an indolent man, negligent of detail, he 
never took unnecessary trouble; and, having no proper 
staff at Washington, he was without military advisers 
whose opinions he respected. The President and 
Monroe fretted at his indifference, the people of the 
District were impatient under it, and every one except 
Armstrong was in constant terror of attack," but he 
would do nothing. He was sure that Baltimore was the 
city the British wanted. At a Cabinet meeting, June 23, 
after Armstrong, Jones and Campbell had agreed to 
"abandon impressment as a sine qua non*^ in the 
negotiations at Ghent, the subject of putting the 
capital under adequate military protection was dis- 
cussed. It was agreed that a corps should be organized. 
Armstrong suggested General Moses Porter as the 
commander, but Madison overruled hinrand appointed 
General William H. Winder. Madison's idea was to 
mollify the Maryland Federalists, since Winder was of 
that stripe and related to the Governor of Maryland. 
Armstrong carried out the Cabinet progranmie, but 
did it with bad grace and "left further measures to 
Winder, Monroe and Madison." His conduct "irritated 
the President," what he did was "passive," and 
perfunctory. 

General Winder could muster but three hundred 
regulars and four thousand militia, under General 
Samuel Smith, a man politically at odds with Madison 
and Monroe; General Tobias E. Stansbury of the 
Eleventh Maryland Brigade, and General John Strieker 
of the Third Maryland Brigade. The Virginia militia 
had been summoned, but could not report for duty 
since they were without flints for their firelocks. Later, 
militiamen flocked down from the Maryland and 
Pennsylvania counties in the region between the 
Potomac and Susquehanna. Ross said that he " didn't 
care if it rained militia," but he underrated the prowess 
of the citizen soldiery. Winder should have had a force 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 885 

of militia at least thrice as large as that which he 
brought together at Bladensburg to dispute the advance 
of "Wellington's invincibles." Just wherein Monroe 
was to blame in this state of affairs is not clear. He 
had expressed himself as frankly as he could on the 
subject of Armstrong's shortcomings. We are no 
apologist for Madison and Monroe, nor yet their critic. 
That there was something much amiss when, after a 
long-continued menace, Uie British could land five 
thousand troops and take an unobstructed road to the 
Capital goes without the saying. We use the word 
"unobstructed,'' yet are reminded of the rather curious 
fact that Prince Greorge Coujity used to be full of 
plantation gates.^ The high-roads were shut off by 
them. But there was plenty of tall timber too, and, 
if the defense had been even ordinarily energetic, this 
timber would have been felled across the roads. And 
now what of Commodore Barney — our fighting Joshua? 
He kept the British back much longer than did the 
gates. But by and by he blew up his gunboats at 
Nottingham and, with five hundred sailors and marines, 
retreated from the Patuxent toward Washington. 

Winder, unsparing of himself but unequal to his task, 
blundered from the start. He mistook the real spot 
for his battle. He thought the British would be so 
foolish as to approach by the road leading to the Navy 
Yard. He himself retreated by that road and reported 
at the White House that night. Next morning he 
heard that the British were marching by way of 
Bladensburg. Adams^ says: 

" Monroe notified Senirier Monday evening that the battle would 
be fought at Bladensburg. . . . Everyone (except Winder) looked 
instinctively to that spot. . . . No sooner did Winder receive 
intelligence at ten o'clock on Wednesday morning that the British 
were on the march to Bladensburg, than in the utmost haste he 
started for the same point, preceded by Monroe and followed by 
the Preside nt and the rest of the Cabinet. Monroe was earliest 

^ See Life of William Winston Seaton, pp. 115.116. 

' H. Adams, Hist. Vol. VIII* p. 138 et 8e^. He cites Rush's Narrative, Winder's 
Narrative, Review of J. Q. Adams, by Kosciusko Armstrong, and William Pinlmey'i 
Statement; State Papers, Military Affairs I, pp. 54S-572. 



836 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

on the ground. Between deven and ten o'clock he reached a spot 
where hills slope gently toward the Eastern Branch, a mile or 
more in broad incune, the little straggling town of Bladensburg 
opposite, beyond a shallow stream, and hills and woods in the 
distance. Some Maryland regiments arrived at the same time 
with Monroe. About three thousand were then on the field, and 
their officers were endeavoring to form them in line of battle. 
General Stansbury, of the Baltimore brigade, made such arrange- 
ment as he thought best. Monroe, who had no militaiy raj^, 
altered it without Stansbury's knowledge.*** 

This is the incident mentioned by Higginson, already 
cited in connection with Monroe's "penchant for mili- 
tary aflFairs/* as Babcock* characterizes it. Other 
writers refer to it, and not a few magnify its importance. 
It was noon of a hot day before Winder reached the 
field. **At the same time the British light brigade 
made its appearance, and wound down lie opi>osite 
road, a mile away, a long column of redcoats, six abreast 
moving with the quick regularity of old soldiers, and 
striking directly at the American centre. They reached 
the village on one side of the stream as Winder's troops 
poured down the hill on the otlier. 

Madison, Monroe, Armstrong and other officials 
watched the preparations for a fight. Just before it 
began Madison said to Monroe: *'It would now be 
proper for us to retire in the rear lo:;ving the military 
movements to the military men. "» 

A little more and they would have been captured. 
"A volunteer scout warned them of their danger."* 
They left the field. Winder had no time to improve 

* n. Adains, Hist. Vol. VIII, p. 140. He refers to Stansbury's Report; Monroe's 
Letter; Slutc Papers. Millitary Affairs I, p. 590. Rossiter Johnson in his History 
says that Monroe moved three of Stansbury's regiments five hundred yards further 
up the sIoi>e. 

^ Rise of American Nationality, by K. C. Babcock, p. 137; State Papers Military 
I, 524; .Armstrong's Notices, II, 140. 

* "Come General Armstrong, come Colonel Monroe; let us go and leave it to 
the Commanding-General"; '*and," adds Rossiter Johnson, in his History of the 
war of 1812, "it was not long before the militia followed their illustrious example.'* 
It was the day of Scott's "Marmion;" and a New York paper said: 

"Fly, Monroe, fly! Run Armstrong, run! 
Were the last words of Madison." 

* Letter of William Simmons, State Papers, Military Affairs, I. p. 596; quoted 
by Adams. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE S37 

the dispositions made by his subordinates. That was 
one cause of the trouble that now came on. Thornton's 
eighty-first regiment dashed across the bridge in the 
face of fire. It was checked, but only momentarily; 
and pushed on till it met fiercer fire when it sought 
cover. A fresh regiment, fording the branch above, 
turned the American left. Winder's men then broke. 
Thereafter, it was a rout. There was fast going at the 
Bladenbuj*g races. 

But Barney? Barney was heading for Bladensburg 
on the run to get into the fight. He was on the main 
road, within a mile of the field, when first the fugitives 
came at him; then, the British. Seeing Barney, with 
his battery, the British took notice, halted, formed and 
advanced. Barney sent them back with his fire. They 
again advanced, but he smashingly cleared the road 
with his eighteen pounder. A third and fourth attack 
found him still there. They then tried to flank him 
on the right; but he sent Captain Miller, with three 
twelve-poimders, and stopped them. But with the 
militia gone, the British did finally flank Barney, whose 
men were quick as cats and fought to the last. Gleig 
says that some of them were bayoneted with fuses in 
their hands. Barney, wounded, "ordered his officers 
to leave him where he lay. " The British took him to 
their hospital at Bladensbuj-g and treated him '' with the 
most marked attention, respect and politeness as if I 
was a brother."^ 

It was now fouj* o'clock and battle dust was no longer 
visible. The British were used up with the heat and 
fight. They rested for two houj-s. It was six before their 
advance reached Washington. 

Mrs. Madison, meantime, was having an unhappy 
exi)erienoe. Tuesday, August 23, she wrote to her 
sister Anne, Mrs. Richard Cutts: '* Disaffection stalks 
around us. ... I am determined not to go myself till I 



^ Banicy's Report, State Papers, Military Affairs, I, p. 570. See the Campai^ 
of the British Army at Washington and New Orleans, by Rev. G. R. Gleig, chaplain- 
generaL p. 186; '^The Subaltern," by Gleig; James' History (British) 11, p. 499 



588 THE LIFB OF JAMES MONROE 



see Mr. Madison safe. " Penciled notes came from hint 
**I lived a lifetime in those last moments/' she said, 
waiting for Mr. Madison's return, *' and in an agony of 
fear least he might have been taken prisoner." She 
pressed as many Cabinet papers into trunks as could 
be bestowed in one carriage. French John wanted to 
lay a train of powder so as to blow up the British as 
soon as they should enter the White House; but she, 
a sensible woman, would have none of it. Wednesday 
noon, August 24, she wrote: "Since sunrise I have been 
turning my spy-glass in every direction. . . . Three 
o'clock — Will you believe it, my sister, we have had 
a battle, or a skirmish near Bladensburg, and here I 
am still within sound of the cannon. Mr. Madison 
comes not! May Grod protect us!" A messenger came 
to bid her to seek a safer place. Then, another. He, 
too, was dust-covered, with panic in his eye. Finally, 
with the British in sight, she withdrew. Jean Sioussat, 
the French porter, cut Stuart's Washington from its 
frame and saved it. He was the last of Mme. Dolly's 
entourage to leave the White House.* He handed the 
key to the Russian Minister appropriately named Andre 
de DaschkoflF (Mr. DashoflF) who was hurrying away 
to Philadelphia.* 

British soldiers were already in the city. Ross 
arrived about dark. A shot from Gallatin's house 
killed his horse. The house was burned, and soon the 
victors began to set fire to other places. Admiral 
Cockburn, on horseback, rode through the town. 
He said he wanted to find the oflBce of The National 
Intelligencer, "as his friend Gales had honored him with 
some hard rubs. " Two women who lived in an adjoin- 



^ She went off in a carriage with Mrs. Anna Cutts — the "Sister Cutts," of an 
ungaliant Federalist lampoon, somewhat in this style. 
'* Sister Cutts and Cutts and I, 
And Cutts* children three 
Shall in the coach, and you shall ride. 
On horseback after we. ** 
Sioussat gave the precious painting to Jacob Barker and Mr. de Peyster who 
hid it. 

> Memoirs and Letters of Dolly Madison, 1886, pp. 108-115. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 839 

ing house begged him not to bum the place lest their 
dwelling too should be destroyed. "Be tranquil, 
ladies," said he; "you shall be as safely protected 
under my administration as under that of Mr. 
Madison." Cockbum, followed by a rabble, entered 
the House of Representatives, and took his seat in the 
Speaker's chair. With mockery, he put the motion: 
"Shall this harbor for Yankee democracy be burned." 
It was burned; and so were the White House, the 
Treasiuy Buildings and all other government structures 
except ike Patent Office. Secretary Smith had already 
destroyed the Navy Yard. "I never saw a scene at 
once more terrible and more magnificent," wrote 
Serurier to Talleyrand; "your Highness knowing the 
picturesque nature and grandeur of the surroundings 
can form an idea of it. A profoimd darkness reigned 
in the part of the city that I occupy, and we were left 
to conjectures and to the lying reports of the negroes 
as to what was passing in the quarter illuminated by 
those fearful flames." 

A tempest arose next day and helped to finish the 
work of the flames. Roofs were torn off, cannon lifted 
by the wind, soldiers buried under the debris. It was 
"a tremendous hurricane." 

According to the contemporary British claim, Wash- 
ington was sacked and burned because the Canadian 
Government buildings at York (now Toronto) had 
been put to the torch. The soldiers who set fire to the 
York buildings said they did it on impulse when they 
saw a human scalp hanging on the wall in the legisla- 
tive chamber. There had been a British premium on 
scalps, and when the soldiers saw the scalp they saw 
red. What these soldiers did under such provocation 
was no excuse for the deliberate retaliatory outrage 
suggested by Sir George Prevost; threatened by 
Admiral Cochrane, in his letter to Monroe, and exe- 
cuted with alacrity by General Ross. When the French 
Minister sent a request for a guard, so that his house 
mig^t not be pillaged, his messenger found "General 



340 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Ross* in the act of piling up the furniture in the White 
H ouse drawing-room preparatory to setting it on fire. " 
Adams dwells upon the mortification of Madison and 
Monroe. They left the battlefield at two and reached 
the White House at three. Madison had been in the 
saddle since eight. The Cabinet was to reassemble at 
Frederick; but he and Secretary Jones and Attorney 
Greneral Richard Rush, instead of riding north, crossed 
into Virginia and took a carriage westward. " Monroe's 
adventures, " says Henry Adams, " were not less morti- 
fying. . . . He did not return to the White House with 
Madison, but joined Winder and rode with him to the 
Capital, where he assented to an evacuation, and 
retired after the flying troops through Georgetown, 
passing the night on the Maryland side of the Potomac. 
The next morning he recrossed the river and overtook 
the President. After an interview with him, Monroe 
recrossed the river to Winder's headquarters at Mont- 
gomery Court House, where he resumed the military 
function." Adams is merciless toward Winder; he 
could neither " organize, fortify, fight nor escape. " He 
was " worse than Hull, Smythe, Dearborn, Wilkinson or 
Winchester." If Winder, then, were so superlatively 
bad, why also abuse Monroe for trying to make the 
best of the bad Winder bargain? With respect to 
Winder, the simple truth is that he had no head for 
the business in hand. With respect to Monroe, he 
certainly conducted himself with good sense, courage 
and a patriotism that is ready to take the rub however 
raw it may be. He should have kept hands off at 
Bladensburg, but even that act of superrogation was 
due to excess of zeal. He was willing to invite even a 
century of invective, some of it almost humorous, if he 
could keep the enemy out of the Capital. As if in pre- 
science of unctuous exaggeration, Monroe left a memo- 
randum as to the President's movements and his own. 



* *'Serurier lived then in the house built by John Tayloe in 1800, called the 
Octagon, a few hundred yards from the War and Navy Departments and the 
White Hoase." Adams. Hist. Vol. Vm, p. Uj. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE S41 

According to Monroe's narrative^ Madison, with 
Attorney General Rush and General Mason, crossed 
into Virginia on the twenty-fourth and remained a few 
miles above the lower falls all next day. On the twenty, 
sixth he recrossed the Potomac and went to Brookville 
with the idea of joining General Winder. Monroe 
was with Winder, whose rendezvous was Montgomery 
Court House. On the twenty-sixth Winder marched 
toward Ellicott's Mills but in the evening pushed on in 
person to Baltimore, then menaced by British move- 
ments. Monroe remained with Generals Stansbury and 
Smith. The narrative continues: 

"On the 27th, the Secretary of State, having heard that the 
enemy had evacuated the city, notified by express, to the Presi- 
dent, and advised immediate return to the city for the purpose of 
re-establishing the government there. He joined the President 
on the same day at Brookville, accompanied by the Secretary of 
State and Attorn^ General; set out inmiediately for Washington, 
where th^ arrived at five in the afternoon. The enemy's squs^iron 
was then battering Fort Washington, which was evacuated and 
blown up by the commander on that evening, without the least 
resistance. The unprotected inhabitants of Alexandria in con- 
sternation capitulated, and those of Georgetown and the city 
were preparing to follow the example. Such was the state of 
affairs when the President entered the city on the evening of the 
£7th. There was no force organized for its defence. The S^n-etary 
of War was at Fredericktown, and General Winder at Baltimore. 
The effect of the late disaster on the whole Union and the world 
was anticipated. Prompt measures were indispensable. Under 
these circumstances, the President requested Mr. Monroe to 
take charge of the Department of War, and command the District 
ad interim with which he inunediately complied. '* 

Monroe learned that certain citizens were about to 
send a deputation to the British commander. This he 
forbid: but planted some batteries and ordered Winder 
on the Virginia side to co-operate with the Maryland 



^ Gilinan*8 Monroe, p. 110-122. Gilman says of thb narrative: "It belongs to 
the class of MSmoiresvour tervir, or semi-oflBoial memoranda, and will serve to give 
prominence as to the Secretary's proceedings at this time^ as he would like to have 
t Hfti p remembcrad. " 



342 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

batteries. Colonel Winder would not recognize his 
authority, preferring to leave the field.* 

"Monroe's act," says Adams, "whether such was his 
intention or not, was a coup (THat. The citizens, unable 
to punish the President, were rabid against Armstrong. 
Monroe, instead of giving to Armstrong in his absence 
such support as might have sustained him, took a posi- 
tion and exercised an authority that led necessarily to 
his overthrow. . . . All the President's recorded acts 
and conversation for months after the capture of 
Washington implied that he was greatly shaken by 
that disaster. He showed his prostration by helpless- 
ness. He allowed Monroe for the first time to control 
him; but he did not dismiss Armstrong." That same 
day Armstrong returned. He offered to resign. Madison 
suggested "temporary retirement." "Between con- 
scious intrigue and unconscious instinct," adds Adams, 
"no clear line of division was ever drawn. Monroe, 
by one method or the other, gained his point and drove 
Armstrong from the Cabinet; but the suspicion that he 
had intrigued for that object troubled his mind to the 
day of his death. " * 

As we have just seen, Madison appointed Monroe 
Secretary of War, on the thirty-first.^ On September 
29, Governor Tompkins of New York was offered the 
State portfolio. He declined it; so as the President 
searched no further, Monroe was both Secretary of 
State and Secretary of War. 

General Ross said that he had selected Baltimore 
as his winter-quarters. He left Washington by night 
and reached Marlboro, on the Patuxent, August 29. 
He descended that river to the bay and went up it. 
After sacking Alexandria, Gordon of the Potomac 
Squadron also returned to the Chesapeake. One of the 
marauding Potomac ships was the " Minelaus," Sir Peter 

^ Monroe Mss. — In the Gouverneur Mss. is a corroborating letter by William 
Robinson. 

* McKenney's Memoirs, p. 44, as cited in Adams. 

* Monroe demanded a commission as Secretary of War and received it Sep- 
tember 27. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE MS 

Parker, who led a fresh expedition to the " Sassafras " on 
the Eastern Shore. There two colonial towns were 
burned — Georgetown and Fredericktown. Sir Peter 
stirred up the hornets, and was killed.* 

Ross, too, got into a hornets' nest. When the British 
fleet entered the Patapsco, Ross landed on the night 
of the eleventh and by daybreak had nine thousand men 
on shore at North Point. Then Cochrane with the 
ships went up toward the city and bombarded Fort 
McHenry, Major Armistead defending, from six o'clock 
Tuesday morning, September 12, till six o'clock Wednes- 
day morning, September thirteenth, when Francis 
Scott Key thrilled to see the star-spangled banner still 
afloat above the ramparts. He was a prisoner on one of 
Cochrane's ships, which hurled fifteen himdred two- 
hundred pound bombs. 

On shore the defenders did just as well as the^en 
in the fort. It was the reverse of Bladensburg. But 
this time there were fourteen thousand men under 
arms; including the picked companies of the city. 
General John Strieker led thirty-two hundred of 
these — artillery, cavalry, infantry — out toward 
North Point and, when within five miles of the British 
landing-place, stood waiting. 

General Ross and his aides slept that night at the 
Gosage dwelling. In the morning Gosage asked his 
guest if he should prepare supper for his party. "No," 
said Ross; " I shall sup in Baltimore tonight, or in hell." 
He mounted his white charger and rode away. The 
charger helped to make a target for the Baltimore 
riflemen, who that morning heard someone cry out: 
"Remember, boys. General Ross* rides a white horse 
today!" In the skirmish preliminary to the actual 
clinch it so happened that these riflemen encountered 



^ Sir Peter was buried in Westminster Abbey. His epitaph would lead one to 
imagine that he died heroically. No doubt he was a hero; but not on that rather 
unseemly marauding occasion. Far from it. 

> Life of John H. W. Hawkins by Rev. William George Hawkins, 1869. J. H. W. 
Hawkins, whose hat was pierced by a bullet, saw Ross fall. WeUb and McComas, 
yomig Americans, fell at the same time. 



M4 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Ross, who fell thus early in the battle. The onrush 
of hardened veterans made Strieker give way and go 
back a little; but the fight was so sharp and the British 
losses were so heavy that they drew oflf and returned 
to their ships. "Did I not tell you," said "the Parson 
of the Isles," when some of the survivors went ashore 
on Tangier Island, on their way home, "that you would 
not take Baltimore?" Cochrane sailed for Halifax; 
Cockbum for Bermuda. By December tenth, Cochrane 
with fifty sail and sixteen thousand veterans, with a 
thousand heavy guns, was at the mouth of the Missis- 
sippi.^ There were a few fights in the preliminaries, 
and then the battle of January eight — Jackson's great 
victory, bringing balm for hurt feelings and introducing 
a new character who would soon make his presence felt 
in the affairs of the nation. 

"At the moment of the declaration of war," wrote 
Monroe to Jonathan Russell, chargi d*affaires in 
London, August 21, 1812, "the President, regretting 
the necessity which produced it, looked for its termina- 
tion and provided for it. " Madison stipulated' a repeal 
of the Orders in Council and the cessation of impress- 
ment. Russell made Lord Castlereagh acquainted with 
these stipulations. As Admiral Warren had left England 
with a proposition for an armistice in view of the repeal 
of the Orders in Council, Castlereagh would not take up 
Madison's points, Russell wrote to Monroe, September 
17, 1812. Lord Castlereagh once observed somewhat 
loftily, that "?/ the American government was so anadous 
to get rid of the war^ it would have an opportunity of so 
doing on learning of the revocation of the Orders in 



^ The biographer of Sir John Burgoyne sajra that the British plan to seise 
Louisiana originated with the Admiral on station, and adds: "It is a remarkable 
feature of English wars that so large a number of combined naval and military 
operations have been undertaken by English Ministers on information supplied by 
Admirals on foreign station." "Seistmen," he adds, "are too apt to look upon the 
■torming of a fortress in the same light as boarding an enemy's ship. Packenham 
was aware of a possible grand error of the sort, and was extremely anxious to get 
upon the ground ahead of his army; but the Statira, the frigate that bore him 
hither, landed him later than he had wished. ** Life and Correspondence of Field 
Marshal Sir John Burgoyne, Bart., by Lieut.-Col. George WrottMley, 1878. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 845 

Council." Captain Mahan^ sees an inamicable fling 
on his Lordship's part in Russell's italicized words, 
and a threat in Monroe's reminder of "the injuries 
which cannot fail to result from a prosecution of the 
war." "In transcribing his instructions," comments 
Mahan, "Russell discreetiy omitted the latter phrase; 
but the omission, like the words themselves, betrays 
consciousness that the administration was faithful to 
the traditions of its party, dealing in threats rather 
than deeds. " Through a great part of the final negotia- 
tions "the impression thus made remained with the 
British ministers. " 

On March 8, 1813, Monroe was gratified to learn 
that Czar Alexander of Russia, through his Chancellor, 
Coimt Roumanzoff, had offered to mediate between 
Great Britain and the United States. He at once 
accepted the offer; and associated Albert Gallatin 
and James A. Bayard with the resident minister at 
St. Petersburg, John Quincy Adams, as American 
Commissioners. But Lord Castlereagh sent Monroe 
an offer to treat directiy. This invitation was accepted 
in January, 1814. Gottenburg was suggested by Lord 
Castiereagh as the place of meeting and Monroe 
agreed to this; but subsequently Ghent was selected 
instead. There were five Americans and three British 
Commissioners; for Henry Clay and Jonathan Russell, 
then Minister to Sweden, were joined with Adams, 
Gallatin and Bayard as envoys, while vice-Admiral 
Lord Gambier, Henry Coulboum, of the Colonial 
OflSce, and Dr. William Adams, admiralty lawyer, 
served Great Britain. 

The American envoys arrived at Ghent, July 6, 1814. 
Clay dined alone. The others, he wrote, "sit after 
dinner and drink bad wine and smoke cigars." He 
would do nothing of the sort. Cakes and ale? No, not 
for a virtuous Kentuckian. But Adams writes that, 
just before rising, he heard Clay's card-party breaking 

^ Sea Power in iU Relation to the War of 1812, by Capt A. T. Mahan. 1905. 
« vols. Vol. n, p. 410. 



846 THE LIFE OF JAMBS MONBOE 

up. Adams and Clay were often at odds. Clay '* waxed 
loud and warm"; he was ''peevish and fractious." 
But it was a good thing to have him at Ghent. The 
British were hard to deal with. They were extreme 
in their demands/ could see only their side, until 
Wellington rebuked them and brought them to reason. 
The negotiations lasted five months. A. T. Mahan' 
has reviewed them illuminatingly in an article on 
Monroe and the Treaty of Ghent. Whatever Clay 
might urge, peace was in order. What was the use to 
continue a war that could only end in more bloodshed 
and a big debt for posterity to pay.^ As Cobbett* 
put it, in a letter to Lord Liverpool: "Have we not 
generals of the first talents and the best of veteran 
troops employed? What a Drummond, a Ross, a 
Pakenham, a Gibbs, could not perform with a hundb^ 
thousand men, who could? Had the Duke of Wellington 
been at Orleans what would have prevented his sharing 
the fate of Pakenham?** No doubt the long-headed 
Duke foresaw the insuperable difficulties. It was he 
who threw cold water on a war he did not relish. 
Captain Mahan tells why he did not come to America. 
It was high time that each side should sum up as 
to its successes and shortcomings on land and sea, 
and sign a treaty. In spite of the Corsican's overthrow, 
the rich and powerful British backers of the war against 
him were pocket- weary. They wished to be rid of the 
income tax. What had been gained in America? 
Nothing. As for the looting and burning at Washington, 
they shook their heads about it. So the treaty of 
Ghent was signed on Christmas Eve, which fell on 
Saturday, December 24, 1814. The British Com- 
missioners were true to form to the last. Like Minister 
Merry they were sticklers for precedence and insisted 



* For Monroe*! letters and Gallatin's replies prior to these negotiations see 
Gallatin's Works (Adams) Vol. I, on impressment, pp. 540, 1.2. 

* In the American Historical Review, Vol. II, pp. 68-87. 

» Letters of William Cobbett, Esq., 1815, p. 405. Cobbett wrote a little book 
on the war entitled: **The Pride of Britannia Humbled, or the Queen of the Oceao 
unqueened by the American Cock Boats. " 






THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 847 

upon signing all copies of the treaty before the American 
subscribers had affixed their signatures.* Henry 
Carroll son of Charles Carroll of Bellevue, near George- 
town, "one of the intimates of Madison and Monroe 
sailed from England in the sloop-of-war "Favorite, 
January 2, 1815, bringing the American counterpart of 
the document, and landed at New York, February 11. 
He handed the treaty to Madison, Tuesday evening, 
February 13. "*Not an inch ceded or lost* were the 
first words we heard in Washington of the treaty," 
says Charles J. IngersolL* 

Ratifications were exchanged, February 17, 1815, 
at Washington; and the welcome outcome was an- 
nounced in Congress^ February 20.* 



^ Clay ligned the treaty "with a heavy heart.** He called it ''a dammed had 
treaty. Henry Clay by Carl Schur*. Vol. I, p. 116. 

' Historical Sketch of the Second War between the United States of America 
and Great Britain, by Charles J. IngersoU, 1849, 2 vols.. Vol. U, p. Sll. 

* For the text of the Treaty of Ghent see Select Documents of United States 
History, Macdonald, p. 191. 



CHAPTER XIV 

President of the United States 

Just, as in '^Hudibras/' '^ silence like a poultice came 
to heal the blows of sound," so now the peace of Ghent 
stilled the clamor of war and of the Federalist opposi- 
tion. No doubt the happiest man in the United States, 
next to James Madison, was James Monroe. 

We have realized by this time why Madison and 
Monroe go together. To speak of one is to speak of 
the other. With a single breath we utter both names. 
Though, as a fact, Madison was seven years older than 
Monroe, they appear in our imaginings as twin sons 
of Uncle Sam. Certainly, they were close contem- 
poraries — these celebrated foimders, both bom on the 
Rappahannock, both identified with the Revolution- 
ary struggle, both participants in the great task 'of 
Constitution-making, both followers of Jefferson S both 
President in the period when the foundations of 
democracy were laid and each destined to be memo- 
rialized cheek by jowl in histories, in paintings, in 
statues and in the names of the counties, towns, cities 
and villages in the majority of the States of the Ameri- 
can Union. One who scans a list of coimties is con- 
siderably edified at the great number of "Monroes," 
and "Madisons" to be met with. It is so with streets, 
squares and parks. 

But there are points of difference, too. Monroe, 
blue-eyed and of light complexion, says Dr. T. T. 

^ Martin Van Buren, while visiting Patrick Ueniy's friend Judge Spencer Roane 
in his sick-room at Richmond, Va^ noticed that busts of Jefferson, Madison and 
Monroe were arranged in the room in the order named. Van Buren remarked that 
if there had been anvthin^ of the courtier in his [Roane's] character he would have 

g laced Mr. Monroe, he being the actual President, at the head, instead of the foot 
[e replied with emphasis, **No! No! No man ranks before Tom Jefferson in my 
house! They stand, sir in the order of my confidence and affection." Van Buroi'i 
Autobiography. 

848 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 849 

Moran, was "six feet tall, broad, square-shouldered, 
and impressive in personal app)earance. He was a man 
of rugged physique, raw-boned and by no means 
handsome. ... At one time during the War of 1812 
... for a period of ten days and nights, he did not go 
to bed, or remove his clothing, and was in the saddle 
the greater part of the time." This sufficiently proves 
his "great physical strength and endurance." No 
doubt his hardening exi)eriences as a campaigner 
served him well in after life. John Marshall, when 
asked in his old age to what he attributed his own 
continued vigor, said that he thought it due to the 
habit of walking acquired by him when as a youth he 
marched up and down the continent. Monroe "did not 
impress his contemporaries as a particularly cultured 
man. He was awkward and diffident; and without 
grace either in manner or appearance." 

Small and bald, Madison was in contrast with 
Monroe. Madison is spoken of as "frail in body but 
powerful in mind — that prim little man who always 
appeared prematurely old." "He was so modest that 
the color came and went upon his cheeks as upon a 
young girl's." "He represented pure intelligence," 
says John Fiske, "which is doubtless why his popular 
fame has not been equal to his merit." Rufus Choate* 
speaks of "the calm, capacious intelligence of Mr. 
Madison — that great man among our greatest, the 
dead^or living." Hugh B. Grigsby, who saw him, says 
that Stuart's likeness of Madison was true to nature. 
He always wore black "his coat being cut in what is 
termed dress-fashion; his breeches short, with buckles 
at the knees; black silk stockings, and shoes with 
strings or long fair top boots when out in cold weather, 
or when he rode on horseback of which he was fond. 
His hat was of the shape and fashion usually worn by 
gentlemen of his age. He wore powder on his hair, 
which was dressed full over the ears, tied behind and 



^ Workf of Rufus Choaie* with Memoir of Samuel Gilman Bro^t-n, 2 vols. 



S50 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROB 

brought to a point above the forehead, to cover in some 
degree his baldness/* 

No nineteenth century President, except Abraham 
Lincohi, ever had a more trying time than Madison. 
His humiliations were many, and the blow Admiral 
Cochrane gave him nearly broke him down. But now 
all was over — all was well. With the passing of the 
acute foreign controversies, party animosity ceased — 
the Federalist party perished. At least, no more was 
heard of it as a party; though the vital ideas of its 
supporters continued to reproduce themselves, as they 
do to this day. A marked division began in the Bepub- 
lican party. There was what Alexander Johnston, in 
his "United States,'* calls "a nationalizing tendency,'' 
due to the yoimger men, who constantly pulled Monroe 
away from the older Republicanism. Some of these 
were from the West. The country was growing fast; 
and, with the war over, and the better part of the con- 
tinent ours, the prospect was as bright as the sunset 
skies — with but one dark cloud, slavery; and that, as 
yet, had not begun to menace the life of the nation. 
Indiana entered the Union in 1816, Mississippi in 1817, 
Illinois in 1818, Alabama in 1819, Maine in 1820 and 
Missouri in 1821. By 1830 the population would be 
thirteen million. A new bank-act having been proposed 
by Madison and put through by Congress, specie 
payment was resumed by all the sound State banks on 
February 20, 1817. 

tin a speech in the House of Representatives, in 
February the year before, Ben Hardin of Kentucky 
had spoken of Monroe as the "heir apparent." But 
that the choice of Monroe was not quite a foregone 
conclusion is indicated by articles in contemporary 
newspapers, as well as by the figiu*es of the Congres- 
sional caucus. Naturally there was a sectional protest. 
Governor James Sullivan,^ Republican, of Massachu- 
setts, thought that the Virginians had held the Presi- 
dency "a s often as they were entitled to"; so he 

^ Life of James Sullivan* by Thomas C. Amory, 1869» 2 vols. Vol. II, p. 264. 



v':::^;^^;^' 




Mrs. Movroe (Benjamin West) 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 851 

advocated De Witt Clinton as Madison's successor. 
"Virginia," it was said later, "had eight out of the first 
nine presidential periods." Parton called these periods 
those of the "Secretary dynasty." 

Monroe was nominated by a caucus of the Republican 
members of Congress, William H. Crawford of Georgia 
being his competitor. There were in Washington at 
that time, 141 Republican Congressmen, of whom 119 
attended the caucus, either in person or by proxy. 
The vote was Monroe, 65; Crawford, 54. For Vice- 
President, Daniel D.. Tompkins of New York was 
nominated by the same caucus. Of nineteen States, 
with a total electoral vote of 221, Monroe carried 
sixteen; and received 183 votes. Rufus King, his 
opponent, carried three States, with 34 electoral votes.* 

On his first inauguration day, Tuesday, March 4, 
1817, Monroe was favored with fine weather. In 
contrast with that of his second inauguration, it was 
truly "delightful." * Schouler speaks of it as "a day 
of spring sunshine unusual for early March in the 
latitude of our National Capitol"; and adds: "The 
softness of the air, the radiance of the noonday sun, 
the serenity of the rural surroimdings, from wooded 
heights to the placid Potomac, carried a sense of 
tranquil happiness to the hearts of thousands of spec- 
tators who had assembled for the outdoor ceremonies 
on Capitol Hill." » But the ceremonies were not held 
out of doors. They began in the temporary Capitol, 
a brick building "erected by David Carroll and others, 
soon after the British invasion, and leased to the 
Government for the accommodation of the national 
legislature." This building was known later as the 
Capitol prison, frequently referred to in Civil War 

^ " Vacancies, " as they were then termed, 4. For Vice President* D. D. Tompldna 
had 183 electoral votes; John E. Howard, 22; James Ross, 6; John Marshall, 4; 
Robert G. Harper 3. "Vacanies" 4. 

' Thua described in The National InUUigencer, March 5, and in Niles' WuUy 
Register, Baltimore, March 8. For a contemporary account, with the inaugimu 
address in full, see Niles, Vol. XII, No. 2. 

* History of the TJnited States under the Constitution, by James Schouler, six 
volumes. Vol. HI, pp. 1^. 



85^ THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

histories. Just to the northeast, were the ruins of the 
old Capitol — fragments of marble, heat-cracked col- 
umns and a pile of debris that served as reminders to 
the thousands of visitors of Admiral Cochrane's vandal 
hand. The visitors foimd another reminder of the 
same sort at the White House, now in process of recon- 
struction. At this particular time, the Monroes 
occupied a private dwelling, and it was from this 
private house that President-Elect Monroe and Vice- 
President-Elect Tompkins, escorted by many citizens 
on horseback, under guidance of the Inaugural Com- 
mittee, proceeded at half-past eleven to Capitol Hill. 
Madison rode with Monroe. As many as eight thousand 
people were in the Capitol grounds; **such a concourse," 
declares Niles' paper, as "was never before seen in 
Washington. The President was received on his 
arrival, with military honors, by the marine corps, 
by the Georgetown rifles, a company of artillery and 
two companies of infantry from Alexandria." 

The saluting guns without notified those within of 
the presence of the new Executive. Everything was 
ready for his reception. The Senators had met in their 
own chamber at eleven o'clock, had organized and 
had gone thence to that of the Representatives. Here 
were assembled the members of the House, the Judges 
of the Supreme Court, the foreign ministers, the heads 
of departments, visiting dignitaries and as many ladies 
as could be accommodated with seats. The chamber 
was crowded. Vice-President Tompkins took the 
chair; Ex-President Madison and John Gaillard, Presi- 
dent of the Senate, sat to the right, and Henry Clay, 
Speaker of the House to the left, along with the dip- 
lomatic corps. The Judges of the Supreme Court were 
at the table in front of the chair; beyond these sat the 
Senators; and, in the body of the house, the Repre- 
sentatives. At the conclusion of the Vice-President's 
address, the Senate adjourned, whereupon the cere- 
monies were transferred to a portico that had been 
erected out of doors. On this portico, with a host 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE S53 

of honorables gathered around, Chief Justice John 
Marshall, in his black gown, administered the oath 
of oflSce to the President — an old schoolmate of his, 
as we well remember, a comrade-in-arms, a near friend 
when they first wooed the law and compared the 
beauty of the belles of Richmond, but now of late 
somewhat apart, owing to the political embitterments 
of a stormy quarter of a century. "The oath," says 
Niles* RegiMer^ "was announced by a single gun, and 
followed by salutes from the Navy Yard, the battery, 
from Fort Washington and several pieces of artillery 
on the ground," Then the multitudes dispersed, many 
of the dignitaries proceeding at once to the Monroe 
dwelling where a reception was given. Madison and 
his wife shared with their successors the honors of the 
hour. At three the affair was over; and, in the quiet 
of his study, the fifth President was enabled to dis- 
engage himself from the exacting duties of the trying 
day.* 

It was Josiah Quincy who first alluded to Madison 
and Monroe as "James the First and the Second." 
The newspapers caught up the phrase and made much 
of it. But even the Federalist comment was jocular 
and friendly. The "Era of Good Feeling" had come. 
Nathan Sargent *(" Oliver Oldschool") informs us that, 
tluroughout Monroe^s eight years in the White House, 
"tranquility pervaded the country like the placid 
calm of an Indian summer." William J. Grayson 
writes: 

"There was a pause in politics. Federal parties and their dis- 
tinctions and disputes were in abeyance. The great achievement 
of Mr. Monroe's administration was to keep everything quiet, 
to please everybody, and secure a second term of office. We were 
all Federalists then, and all Republicans. The Missouri question 



* An English paper, noticing the election of Mr. Monroe to the Presidency of 
the United States, observes that he lost a 1^ in the Revolutionary War, and is 
rather of the Washington school — Item in Niles' Weekly Register, May 81, 1817. 

' In Public Men and Events from the Conunencement of Mr. Monroe's Adnun- 
istration in 1817 to the Goae of Mr. Fillmore's Administration in 1858, % vols. 
Vol. I. p. W. 



854 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

excited some commotion but it subsided into comprondae. The 
vexed question seemed to be settled, and everybody was again 
in a good humor. It was the leign of peace and duhiess, of which 
Mr. Monroe was the happy representative."* 

"This near approach to unanimity,'* says George 
Ticknor Curtis,' "evinces almost an obliteration of 
party distinctions. Mr. Monroe*s personal popularity 
and the general confidence that was reposed in him 
had a considerable influence in producing what was 
called 'The Era of Good Feeling' which prevailed 
while he administered the government. The Federalists, 
who had been strongest in the North and East were 
conciliated by his first Inaugural, while his strength 
was not weakened among the Republicans (Democrats) 
of the South. In truth it was not until the war was 
over and some of the animosities which it caused had 
begun to fade that the attention of men began to be 
directed to the question of internal administration, 
which would involve the exploration of the Federal 
Powers and a discussion of policies applicable to a state 
of peace. No sectionalism disturbed the country.*' 
Did this placidity, this good feeling, develop of itself; 
or did Monroe promote it, by what Calhoim spoke of 
as his "intellectual Patience"? • No doubt Monroe 
was fortunate in coming into the Presidency at the 
very moment when the great quarrels with France and 
England were over, and when the Federalists had 
discredited themselves by unpatriotic lukewarmness, 



^ Memoir of James Louis Petigrew, by W. J. Grayson, 1806. 

' Life of James Buchamin, 2 vols. Vol. I, p. 23. 

* " He (Monroe) had a wonderful intellectual patience, and oould, above all 
men that I ever knew, when called on to decide an important point, hold the subject 
immovably fixed imder his attention till he had mastered it in all its relations. It 
was mainly to this admirable quaUty that he owed his highly accurate judgment. 
I have known many much more rapid reaching the conclusion but very few with a 
certainty so unerring.'* Schouler, Vol. Ill, p. 205, who refers to Monroe Msa. 
August 8, 1831. and adds: "This letter, not too laudatory, which was written to 
Gouverneur on the news of Monroe's death is in Callioun's tenderest strain. He 
accords to Monroe a high station in the eyes of posterity. *Though not brilliant,' 
he says *few men were his equals in wisdom, firmness and devotion to his country.* " 
In these same Mss. may be found deserved tributes from Wirt and Hidiard Rush 
and others. See also Adams' Eulogy; Watson, Benton and others, cited in 
Gilman's Life of Monroe; 4 Madison's Writings (1831). 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 865 

by seditious utterances and threats of disunion at a 
crisis in the life of the republic. We have seen that 
when the time was inopportune as, for instance, when 
at Madrid and at London, Monroe could do little; and 
we conclude that his administration must have been 
a stormy one had the winds of circumstance still blown 
a gale. But, with this said, we may add that Monroe 
took full advantage of his opportunities when in the 
White House and with great skill and painstaking 
sought to help along whatever promoted the contin- 
uance of a rational, prosperous and happy age. 

There had been a great deal of pulling and hauling 
that winter as to his cabinet, a strong one, selected 
with great care. Monroe had aimed to put a fit man 
into each place, and he had kept in mind the desir- 
ability of avoiding heartburnings. To Jefferson he had 
written, February 23: 



''On full consideration of all circumstances I have thought 
it would produce a bad effect to place anyone from this quarter 
of the Union in the dept. of State, or from the South or West. 
You know how much has been said to impress a belief on the 
country, north or east of this, that the citizens from Virga, holding 
the Presidency have made appointments to that dept. to secure 
the succession from it to the Presidency of the person who happens 
to be from that State." 

He thought that in his own ease his service in the 
war department had helped to take out the sting, or 
at least some of it.^ , However, the prejudice was still 
strong. Should he nominate a southern man the effect 
would be to antagonize the whole coimtry north of 
Delaware. His wish was to forestall such a combina- 
tion. He added: 

''With this view, I have thought it advisable to select a person 
for the Department of State from the Eastern States, in conse- 
quence of which my attention has been turned to Mr. Adams, 

^ Schouler calls attention (Vol. m, p. 8) to the fact that, when conacription 
seemed inevitable, in 1814, Monroe frankly told his friends, who were preparing to 
nominate him for the Presidency, that as he must take the odium of proposinfl 
and executing so unpopular a measure they ought to put him aside. War ended 
suddenly and without conscription. " Monroe Mss. 



356 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

who by his age, long experience in our foreign affairs, and adoption 
into the Republican party seems to have superior pretensions to 
any there. To Mr. Cra^ord I have intimated my sincere desire 
that he will remain where he is. To Mr. Clay the department of 
war was offered which he declined. It is offered to Govr. Shelby, 
who will be nominated to it before his answer is rec'd. 
Mr. Crowninshield, it is understood, will remain in the Navy 
Department. "^ 

He wrote in like»vein, but with less particularity to General 
Andrew Jackson, March 1, 1817. ''At this moment," he said, 
''our friend, Mr. Campbell, called and informed me not to nomi- 
nate you (for the Department of War.)'*^ 

The Cabinet consisted of John Quincy Adams of 
Massachusetts, Secretary of State; William H. Craw- 
ford, of Georgia, Secretary of the Treasury; John C. 
Calhoun, of South Carolina, Secretary of War; William 
Wirt of Virginia, Attorney General; and Benjamin W. 
Crowninshield, of Massachusetts, Secretary of the 
Navy, who in the fall of 1818, gave way to Smith 
Thompson of New York. The Postmaster General, 
not a cabinet oflScer, was Return J. Meigs of Ohio. 
Not only were these able men but the various sections 
of the country were considerately drawn upon.* 

John Quincy Adams,* then Minister to England, 
records in his Memoirs, Volume III, page 497, under 
date of April 16, 1817: "Soon after rising this morning, 
I received four letters. One was from James Monroe, 
President of the United States, dated March 6 last, 

* Writings of Monroe, Vol. VI, pp. 2-4. 

• Parton's Life of Jackson; also Monroe's Writings, Vol. VI, p. 4. 

• There were few changes in the Cabinet during Monroe's eight years. When 
Brockholst Livingston died, Monroe made Thompson a Justice of the Supreme 
Court; and Samuel L. Southard of New Jersey became Secretary of the Navj*. 
Ex-Chancellor Kent's friends thought he should have had the Justicesjhdp; but he 
became a law professor at Columbia and \^Tote his Commentaries. This, thinks 
Schouler, worked out well. There was another change in Monroe's cabinet when 
Meigs, who was out of health gave way to John McLean of Ohio. Postmastership 
disputes developed at this time. A New York case, involving the factions and most 
of the big politicians, including V^an Buren and Tompkins, caused a Cabinet meeting. 
Monroe refused to interfere with Meigs' appointment of Van Rensselaer. 

* Like Monroe, John Quincy Adams was, as Gilman puts it, "a participant in 
the diplomatic questions evolved by two wars." When but fourteen, a "nmture 
youngster" he went as Francis Dana's secretary to St. Petersburg. He was Minister 
to Holland, Prussia, Russia and England. His diary covers many years. In 
Gilman's belief "the Eulogy which he delivered on the death of Monroe remains 
to this day the best history of his political standing." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 857 

informing me that he had, with the sanction of the 
Senate, committed me to the Department of State. 
He requests me, in case of my acceptance of the oflSce 
to return to the United States with the least possible 
delay to assume its duties and mentions that he sends 
a special messenger with the letter, and copies by 
various conveyances. That which I received is a 
quadruplicate, and came by a vessel from Boston to 
Liverpool. . . . 17th, I answered the letter from the 
President of the United States, and accepted the 
appointment of Secretary of State. The manner m 
which the President has thought proper to nominate 
me was certainly honorable to himself, as it was without 
any intimation from me, or, as far as I know, from any 
of my friends, which could operate as an inducement 
to him. His motives were altogether of a public 
nature.'* 

"It was taken for granted," says Carl Schurz in his 
"Henry Clay,** "that he [Monroe] would have two 
terms and that then the competition for the presidency 
would be open to a new class of men. As Madison had 
been Jefferson's Secretary of State before he became 
President, and as Monroe had been Madison's, the 
Secretaryship of State was looked upon as the stepping- 
stone to the presidency. Those who expected to be 
candidates for the highest place in the future, therefore 
coveted it with pecidiar solicitude." Clay felt that he 
was entitled to it. He had lifted his voice in behalf of 
manly America — against further acceptance of con- 
tumelious cuffs and kicks; he had "fired the popular 
heart" while the war was on, and he had helped to 
wrest from haughty England, "on the pinnacle of her 
pride," such terms as were secured at Ghent. It is 
true he had called it "a damned bad treaty" when he 
signed it; but that was a little matter he could con- 
veniently forget. America had been despised before 
the war. "What," he exclaimed, "is our situation 
now! Respectability and character abroad, security 
and confidence at home." But Monroe merely offered 



358 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

him the war portfolio, or the mission to Russia. He 
declined both. He was re-elected Speaker of the House 
in the Fifteenth Congress, which met December 1, 
1817, one himdred and forty members voting for him 
and but seven against. We shall see presently how 
Clay opposed Monroe; or, as Thomas Hart Clay, a 
grandson, expresses it, became ^'a gadfly on his flank.'' 
It is enough to add here that when Monroe, to mollify 
New England, determined to put Adams into his 
cabinet, he hurt Clay in a tender spot. Clay and 
Adams could not be made bedfellows even by politics. 
While at Ghent, Clay was "the fighting antithesis" of 
Adams, who was "steeped in the Puritan traditions of 
New England, confident in his learning and tenacious of 
the niceties of speech and behavior to which he had been 
bred.*' * Clay was fiery and fearless and said what 
he thought. When it was proposed to put it into the 
treaty that the British might trade witii the western 
Indians he walked up and down the room, rep>eating, 
"I will never sign a treaty upon the status ante heUnm 
with the Indian article, so help me God." He was 
always losing his temper — always bickering, some- 
times quarreling with Adams, who himself was no 
angel. And Clay was right a great deal of the time. 
For instance, when the British took advanced ground 
and assumed a peremptory tone, Adams said that they 
would not recede — it was "inconceivable" that they 
would recede. Clay insisted that they would do just 
that; and they did. In Vol. Ill of his Memoirs, Adams 
tells, in his precise way, of his own naggings of Clay 
and of Clay's outbursts. Sometimes, indeed, the dif- 
ferences of these able men breed humor; we smile; we 
understand Clay, the Kentuckian, the American; we 
understand Adams, too, who by and by would grow 
warm enough, on one subject at least, and become 
"the Old Man Eloquent." Monroe, let us add, was in 
great good luck when Clay refused to enter the Cabinet. 
Monroe h ad his troubles with it as it was constituted; 

1 Henry Clay, by Thomas Hart Clay, 1910, p. 75. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 859 

he would have had more if Adams and Clay had been 
associated in it. 

Crawford was of "almost gigantic stature, portly, 
dignified in bearing and self-possessed/' In an old play 
he would have been chosen to take the part of a poten- 
tate, or Lord Chancellor, or the like. But biographers 
are not drawn to him. Schouler, who calls him "a very 
Saul in appearance,;^ finds that he repaid Monroe's 
magnanimity in inviting him into his inner circle not 
by good work for the government, but by scheming for 
the presidency. "His game was for himself; and though 
he played a bold hand he lost it.'* * Adams, Calhoun 
and Wirt were true; not so Crawford. 

It was transition time from old to new. A diflFerent 
type was developing. Of the three C's in the Cabinet 
— Calhoun, Crawford, and Crowninshield, two at 
least would rise to considerable celebrity. Outside the 
Cabinet was Jackson, who, as the hero of the battle 
of New Orleans, was to be reckoned with, not only by 
Monroe, but by everybody else.^ Already Jackson's 
characteristics were known. Already his vehemence 
and pugnacity caused cautious gentlemen to tread 
softly in their dealings with him — this duellist who 
had fought with Colonel Waightstill Avery,' who had 
killed Charles Dickinson and who had barely escaped 
with his own life when, in attempting to horsewhip 
Thomas H. Benton, he had drawn the quick pistol- 
fire of both "Tom'' and his brother Jesse. Jackson 
wanted Monroe for president when Madison was first 
nominated; and at a Monticello dinner, when sum- 
moned north to help reorganize the army gave the 
toast — " James Monroe, Secretary of War,'* the 

1 Schouler says that in the main, "the unfavorable estimate which Adams 
formed of Crawford is confirmed by all trustworthy testimony of this period." 
Monroe Mss. 

' Jackson worked in the shop of a Wazhaw, S. C, saddler; Andrew Johnson was 
a tailor; Grant, a tanner. 

» After this duel. Avery said: "Jackson, don't you think wt are both d 

fools?'* "Do 2^011?" inquired Jackwm. "Imost certainly do." "Then Col. Avery, 
allow me to say I am glad there is one subject we can agree on." This is from 
Parton, who says that Avery shot six feet over the tall man's head and Jackson a 
yard to one side of his big-bodied opponent 



S60 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

inference being that Monroe was still his man for the 
higher office. Monroe welcomed him to Washington, 
where he was lionized. The country was divided into 
the Northern and Southern Military divisions, with 
General Brown in command of one and Jackson of 
the other, his headquarters being Nashville. When 
Jackson returned to Tennessee he declared that he was 
for Monroe "First, last and all the time.'* The two 
corresponded for many years. ^ Jackson's letters are 
full of patriotic pith. Monroe wrote to him on the rise, 
progress and policy of the Federalists; Jackson replied:* 
"I am free to declare that had I commanded the Mili- 
tary Department when the Hartford Convention met, 
if it had been the last act of my life, I should have 
punished the three principal leaders of the party." 
Here is a forehint of what he would do with nullifiers. 
North or South. 

Jackson was a forceful, self-willed man, who could 
not detach himself from his prejudices. Monroe could, 
and did. Schouler writes of him as a man conspicuous 
"for patient consideration to all sides." "He had a 
mind," said J. Q. Adams, "sound in its ultimate 
judgments and firm in its final conclusions." Jackson's 
personality was much more pronounced; his ego was 
an honest ego, but insufficiently disciplined, though he 
himself was a soldier and knew the necessity of dis- 
cipline. He loved his friends, hated his enemies and 
worried b oth. His own best friend was Andrew Jack- 

^ *'The subject-matter of the Monroe-Jackson correspondence is mainly states- 
manship in the abstract with incidental reference to current problems of practical 
administration. It is marked throughout by a perfect reciprocity of confidence, 
respect and admiration. Its tone is lofty and it discloses throughout mutual aspira- 
tions of the purest patriotism." — History of Andrew Jackson, by Augustus C. 
Buell, 2 vols., Vol. II, pp. 106-108. Commenting on Oilman's assertion that 
Monroe made a good Secretary of War. Roosevelt in "The Naval War of 1812" 
(p. 45G) makes this statement: " I think he was as much a failure as his predecessors 
and a harsher criticism could not be passed upon him. Like the other statesmen 
of his school he was mighty in word and weak in action. As an instance, contrast 
his fiery letters to Jackson with the fact that he never gave him a particle of practical 
help." The reference is to Jackson's offer to Armstrong, July 18, 1814, to go down 
into Florida and expel the mischief-making British at Pensacola. Armstrong did 
not reply. He was succeeded by Monroe, and Jackson thought Monroe would t%W 
up the plan. He was disappointed. 

^ Monroe to Jackson, December 14, 1816: Jackson to Monroe, January 6, 1817 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 861 

son and his worst enemy was Andrew Jackson.' His 
resentments were unreasoning, though sometimes war- 
ranted. He resented the indifference of the bureaucrats 
to his achievements in the Creek campaign, when he 
forced his way through an almost impassable coun- 
try in order to attain his objective. It was not Hercu- 
lean, this labor of his, but it was a hard task, executed 
with imcommon spirit and grit. His was the same sort 
of resentment one nurses whether in mine, mill, factory 
or field against those who profit by one's sweat and by 
the risk one takes of life or limb and yet deny due 
recognition of labor done. Crawford re-<^eded some of 
the land acquired by Jackson at the Creek cession. 
Would Jackson stand for this? No, it was a personal 
insult. He obtained a reversal of Crawford's act, and 
regarded Crawford as his enemy. Monroe adroitly 
handled the maladroit Jackson, but even Monroe by 
and by would have something to explain in a Jackson 
matter — on his very deathbed, as we shall see, he 
would be obliged to take part in a Jacksonian con- 
troversy. 

But, now, thanks to Monroe's appreciation and 
guardedness, they were co-operating. Monroe was 
both politician and statesman. Jackson, too, was 
strongly drawn by politics. In spite of his wish to 
chastise the sinners who met at Hartford, he advised 
Monroe to appoint a Federalist as a member of his 
Cabinet. He sent Monroe a letter* which ran: "Now 

^ Jackson's mother had advised hun when he left her to go to Tennessee "not 
to lie or sue anybody. Always settle them cases yourself, " she said. '* My mother, " 
said Jackson, "was a little, dumpy, red-headed Irish woman." Memories of Fifty 
Years, by W. H. Sparks, 1890. 

* According to W. G. Sumner, Life of Jackson, 1882, p. 49: "In October, 1816, 
a letter, sign^ by Jackson, was addressed to Monroe, in anticipation of his election 
to the Presidency, urging the appointment of William Drayton of South Oirolina 
as Secretary of War. William B. Lewis, Jackson's neighbor and confidential firiend, 
husband of one of Mrs. Jackfon's nieces, wrote this letter. . . . Drayton had been 
a Federalist. He belonged to the South Carolina aristocracy. . . Jackson said 
(in 1824) that he did not know Drayton in 1816.*' As we learn from "A Sketch 
of the Ldfe of Robert F. Stockton (Commodore Stockton) by S. J. Bayard, 1856; 
"in the Middle States in 1824, especially in New Jersey, a large number of Fed- 
eralists supported General Jackson. Tlie grounds for this preference were the 
celebrated letter of General Jackson to Mr. Monroe^ advising him to appoint a 
Federalist to his Cabinet. " p. 57. 



362 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 



is the time to exterminate that monster called party 
spirit. By selecting characters most conspicuous for 
probity, virtue, capacity, fimmess, without regard to 
party, you will go far to, if not entirely, emdicate 
those feelings which on kformer occasions threw so 
many obstacles in the way of government, and perhaps 
have the pleasure of imiting a people heretofore politi- 
cally divided. The Chief Magistrate of a great and 
powerful nation should never indulge in party feelings." 
Van Buren (Autobiography, pp. 234 to 239) goes into 
the details of the poUtical effects of the use made by 
Monroe of Jackson's letter, especially with regard to 
Senator Walter Lourie of Pennsylvania. 

Nor should we lose sight of other rising men of the 
time. Revolutionary worthies, the Constitution- 
makers, the partisan champions of the last decade of 
the past, and first decade of the current century, were 
out of public life; new questions were up. Webster, 
who was to be among the giants, had begun to show his 
growth. In Ohio an old settler who had come from 
New Hampshire asked him: "Is this the son of Cap- 
tain Webster?' "It is, indeed.' "What! Is this 
the little Black Dan that used to water the horses?'' 
Speaking of Webster, B. F. Perry said:^ "His eyes 
were the largest I ever saw in any human head." 
Calhoun said that when Webster was worsted in an 
argument, he felt it, and you saw he felt it, but that 
Clay^ gave no such sign. : " 

Though surrounded by such men as those we have 
just sketched, Monroe kept in mind the excellences of 
his elders. Schouler credits him with endeavoring to 
model his administration upon that of Washington. 
We get an inkling of this in a letter to Jackson, in which 
Monroe questioned the necessity of a division into 



* Reminiscences by B. P. Perry, Ex-Govcmor of South Carolina, p. 47. 

' Ucnry Clay succeeded General Adair in the United States Senate in 1806. Adair 
had resigned. Benjamin P. Perry, the South Carolina Unionist, makes this com- 
ment: He was not then thirty years old and consequently not eligible to a seat 
in the Senate. How he took his seat and the oath of office, I have never 8eeo 
explained." Clay was bom April 12, 1777. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 86S 

parties. He favored fusion. "I think," said he, "that 
the cause of these divisions is to be found in certain 
defects of those governments rather than in human 
nature; and that we have happily avoided those defects 
in our system.** This bit of speculation was allowable 
in that era of good feeling; but he had not come to the 
golden age. Nor have we. "Taken in their natural 
course,*' says Schouler, "parties organize, disorganize 
and reorganize, as vital issues change. Within seventy- 
five years passed away the Anti-Federal, the Federal, 
the First Republican, the Whig, the Native American 
parties.** Monroe, with magnanimity, addressed him- 
self to the task of exterminating old party divisions and 
giving new strength and direction to the government. 
Proud of Virginia, "a fiUal follower of the great 
JeflFerson,** regardful of Madison, Monroe did not 
confine himself to the old Republican circles. Marshall 
he admired. "Nor,** says Schouler, "could his heart 
cease to own its secret allegiance to Virginia's greatest 
of sons, the first President.** His old resentment against 
him had dried up altogether; "by the time of his 
accession to the Presidency, the illustrious example of 
the first incumbent had become with Monroe an 
overpowering influence.** Schouler adds: 

''He sought the same high plane of unpartisan service. T^thout 
Washington's commanding presence, transcendant fame, or 
superb endowments, he nevertheless had grown to resemble him 
strongly in predominate traits of character, and, more especially, 
in an honest sincerity of purpose to administer well; in habits of 
patient and deliberate investigation, all contending arguments 
being weighed dispassionately; and in a fixed determination not 
to be influenced in a public trust by private considerations. Even 
in personal looks the last Virginian, with his placid and sedate 
expression of face, regular features and grayish-blue eyes had 
come to appear not unlike the first; so that in these years the 
names of Washington and Monroe became naturally coupled 
together. '" 

Monroe tried to follow Washington's example as 
closely as he could. Because Washington had gone 
out to see the people and the country, Monroe thought 



364 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

it incumbent upon him to do likewise. Accordingly 
he planned an extended tour which lasted throughout 
the summer. Edward Everett Hale, in his "Memories 
of a Hundred Years/* Vol. I, p. 221, says of Monroe's 
tour: 

''In Tx^ boyhood, this joum^ of his, which began on the Slst 
day of May, 1817, and did not end until October of the same year 
was called The President's Progress.* Washington's similar 
journey in 1791 was always called 'Washington's Progress.* There 
is a little touch of burlesque when one reads that President Monroe 
arrayed himself in the old buff and blue of the Revolution with 
an old-fashioned three-cornered soldier's hat. There is just a 
touch of absurdity about this, because his military exploits were 
of his whole life, the enterprises which his friends would have 
most gladly forgotten." 

Hale quotes Aaron Burr,* who, in 1815, slurred 
Monroe as one who "never commanded a platoon 
nor was ever fit to command one/* As aide to Greneral 
Stirling, " Monroe's whole duty was to fill his Lordship's 
tankard and to bear with indication of admiration 
his Lordship's long stories about himself." This is 
curious nonsense. Monroe would have been a Medal of 
Honor man, if that order had been in existence in his 
time. He offered his life in a pinch, and was within an 
ace of death, his blood gushing from an artery at everj'^ 
heart throb.^ Nor do we share Hale's opinion as to 
the impropriety of Monroe's use of the blue-and-buff. 
He wished to bring on what he did bring on — the 
Era of Good Feeling. He had a perfect right to wear it, 
and he wore it with a great good grace. 

As we learn from Waldo's book' about the tour, its 
main object was "the advancement of the public 

^ Monroe was well acquainted not only with Colonel Burr but with his wife, 
Tbeodosia's mother, with whom he had corresponded, addressing her as '*my dear 
little friend. " When Burr murricd her, she was kno\Mi as the \\':dow Prevost, and 
lived in the Hermitage at old Hopperstoiivn, now Ilohokus. She was the widow of 
Colonel Prevost, of the British army, who had died in the West Indies. 

* Nilee's Reaisier, July 23, 1831, says: "In Colonel Trumbull's painting of the 
'Capture of the Hessians* Monroe appears prostrate and bleeding on the field.** 

' The tour of James Monroe, President of the United States, through the 
Northern and Eastern States in 1817; his tour in the year 1818, together with a 
akebch of his life, with descriptive and historical notices of the i)rincipal plaoei 
throu^ which he passed; by S. Putnam Waldo, Esq. Hartford, 18i20. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE S65 

interest.** The official object was an inspection of 
defensive works in course of construction under General 
Bernard who had been recommended by the Marquis 
de La Fayette. So Monroe was accompanied not only 
by his private secretary, but by General Joseph G. 
Swift, Chief of the Corps of the Engineers and Superin- 
tendent of West Point Academy.* When he left 
Washington, he had it in mind to travel as a private 
citizen. He had hardly reached Baltimore before he was 
obliged to abandon the idea. People knew what he was 
about and some of them criticized him because he 
entered that city on a Simday, albeit he went to church. 
Next day accompanied by Generals Smith, Strieker, 
Winder and Swift, he visited Fort McHenry and the 
spot where Ross fell, and reviewed the third brigade, 
under General Sterret, at Whetstone Point. The Mayor 
and City Council addressed him, and Monroe replied.^ 
This was the custom in all the big towns and cities 
throughout his tour. It must have been something of 
a strain upon him to prepare the long string of addresses 
made up as they were of pleasant platitudes and those 
patriotic orotimdities that occur to one when the fife 
sounds and the drum rolls. It is interesting to follow 
Monroe and his fellow-travelers by steamboat, June 4, 
up the Chesapeake to Frenchtown, and across Delaware 
to New CasUe, whence, on the sixth, they proceeded 
to Wilmington, Fort Mifflin and the Philadelphia 
Navy Yard. His quarters at the Mansion House, 
Philadelphia, '*were crowded every hour." The Penn- 
sylvania Society of the Cincinnati addressed him, 

^ "Swift was a New Englander of New Englanders, the first mduate of West 
Point, and a friend of Eustis, late Secretary of War, whom he had accompanied 
from Boston to Washington in 1800, and *inducted into the mysteries of his new 
vocation/ By his skill in protecting New York during the war he had gained the 
applause of 'Benefactor of the City/ and had ret-eived more substantial proofs of 
the gratitude of the people. *' Gilman*s Monroe, p. 136. Also Gen. G. W. Cullum's 
Campaigns and Engineers of 1812. 

* Monroe said in his Baltimore address, June 2: "Congress has appropriated 
large sums of money for the fortification of our coast and inland frontier, and for 
the establishment of naval docks and buUding a navy. It is proper that these works 
should be executed with judgment, fidelity and economy. Much depends in the 
execution on the Executive, to whom extensive power is given as to the general 
arrangement and to whom the superintendence exclusively beloogi.'* 



566 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

many celebrities, including Justice McKean, soon to 
die, waited upon him; and he took great pleasure in 
revisiting the shrines with which he had been familiar 
in times past. This was the case at Trenton, whither 
he proceeded, and where the volunteer companies, 
on tiie evening of the seventh, gave him a feu de jaie^ 
instead of a shower of bullets as the Hessians had done 
in *76. Next day being Sunday, he had time to goto 
his old battleground as well as to church. Mayor 
McNeely, the aldermen and the people of Trenton 
sped him on his way, past Princeton field; and Chief 
Justice Kirkpatrick welcomed him at New Brunswick, 
while bells rang and guns sounded. 

At New York, Monroe was greatly honored. He 
was the guest of the Vice-Fresident, Tompkins, 
on Staten Island, from which he went by steamboat, 
imder escort, up the harbor, past saluting ships, to 
the Battery. It was a day of powder-burning, parades 
and addresses. That Rufus King and De Witt Clinton 
gave him welcome added to the piquancy of a zestful 
day. Many veterans of the old war, such as Colonel 
Marinus Willetts, and of the new war, such as General 
Winfield Scott, met him and honored him. He was 
loth to leave them, but soon took a steamboat for New 
Haven. He was in New England now, but found no 
abatement whatever in the warmth of his welcome. 
Whether at Durham, Middletown, Hartford,* on the 
Massachusetts State line, or at Springfield, the j>eople 
turned out heartily, making his journey a "progress," 
wherever he went. He reached New London on the 
twenty-fifth, passed by boat to Stonington, and thence to 
Newport, in company with Commodore Oliver H. Perry. 
Talking over the late war was one of the pleasures of 
the tour. Another pleasure at Newport was Monroe's 
meeting with the venerable William Ellery, a signer 
of the Declaration of Independence. 

It was in Boston, however, that Monroe was given 

^ Monroe said at Hartford that he was not at the head of a faction but P^eskknt 
of the whole people. Such he now habitually thought himaelf . 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 867 

his greatest New England greeting. The Massachusetts 
Legislature gave the signal in a resolution providing 
for an escort from the State line; so that, when Monroe 
passed to it from Providence, he was met by an imposing 
concourse and cavalcade, civil and military, and was 
escorted to Boston with a notable spirit and all the 
complimentary noise a man need wish to hear. "A 
cavalcade of citizens, arranged in sixteen divisions,'* 
says Schouler,* "was followed by one himdred and 
fifty truckmen, well mounted, and dressed in white 
frocks; this procession, more than a mile in length, 
defiled slowly down Washington and the other chief 
streets in presence of some forty thousand applauding 
spectators ; there was a military escort, and the President 
was on horseback. Entering the green lawn of the 
Common, Monroe passed a long line of children from 
the public schools, youths of both sexes drawn up to 
meet him, many of whom wore roses, red and white 
together, in token that all civil feuds were happily 
ended. '' At Breed^s Hill and Bunker Hill on the fourth 
of July, the tourist reached his apogee. It would take 
a chapter to tell of all the interesting happenings while 
Monroe was in Boston. His headquarters were at the 
Exchange CoflFee House, then the largest hotel in 
America, where he received the congratulatory address 
and replied to it.^ He paid his respects to John Adams, 
who, by this time, was most friendly toward him, as 
was Mrs. Abigail Adams. Indeed, that most capable 
of Presidents' wives honored Monroe with her corres- 
pondence. Other Federalist celebrities were likewise 
complaisant, notably Harrison Gray Otis, once an 
enemy, whose Beacon Street Mansion was thrown 
open to the Virginian "Jacobin. *' Otis' gave a fire- 
works display in Monroe's honor. He and Quincy, as 
well as General Dearborn, were at the Adams dmner 
to the Re publican guest. 

^ History of the United States, by James Schouler. Vol. HI, p. 9. 

* Memorials of the Massachusetts Society of Cincinnati, pp. 54, 55, 

* Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis (1765-1848) by Samuel Eliot Morison. 
19(13; 2 vols.; Vol. I, pp. 87-231; Vol. H. pp. 44-46. 128, 168. 208-11, «ld. 



S68 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 

The Dearborns gave a grand ball in the BowdoiD 
Mansion, Boston, July 3. According to Daniel Goodwin 
Jr:* 

''The visit of President Monroe to Boston was a brilliant ova- 
tion, the whole city, without distinction of party joining in parades, 
bails, illuminations and receptions. General Dearborn was chair- 
man of the Committee, Commodores Bainbridge, Hull and Peny 
were there with war vessels; also Generals Brooka» Sullivan, 
Sumner, Crane, Wells, Blake, Thomdike, Perkins, and a throng 
of other officers and military companies. A great meeting was 
held at Bunker Hill on the 4th of July, where Monroe expressed 
a sentiment similar to that of Lincoln at Gettysburg. The bkxxl 
spilt here roused the whole American people and united them, in a 
conmion cause in defense of their ri^ts. That union will never 
be broken.' He visited Cambridge and was welcomed by President 
IQrkland, and all the faculty and students of Harvard. Dearborn, 
Otis, and Quincy dined with the Monroes at Ex-President John 
Adams'." 

We particularize thus since it is a joy to noteithat 
those who had once yearned to eat Monroe alive now 
loved him, as it were; or at any rate lavished their very 
best upon him whether of wit, wine or compliments.' 
Monroe vinrote to JeflFerson (July 27): "I have seen 
enough to satisfy me that the great mass of our fellow- 
citizens in the Eastern States are as firmly attached 
to the union and to repubHcan government as I have 
always believed or could desire them to be.*' 

John Greenleaf WTiittier was nine years old when 
Monroe visited Haverhill. As it happened, a menagerie 
with circus attachment, was in town on the sanoie day. 
His biographer says:® 

" The Quaker boy was not allowed the privilege of seeing either 
the collection of wild beasts or the Chief Magistrate of the Nation. 
He did not care much for the former, but he was anxious to see a 
President of the United States. The next day he trudged all the 

* The Dearborns, by Daniel Goodwin, Jr. (Chicajgo, 1884). 

* As a case in point, tlie Boston Centinel gives this anecdote: "In the widow of 
the late President VVheelo<'k, the President found the fair comforter who dressed 
the wound which he received in the memorable battle of Trenton. ... As they 
had not before seen each other since that period, the emotions which the interview 
occasioned may be better conceived than described. " 

* Life and Letters of John G. Whittier. by Samuel T. Pickard, 2 vols. Vol. I 
p. 25. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 369 

way to Haverhni, determined to see at least some footsteps in 
the street that the great man had left behind him. He found at 
last an impression of an elephant's foot in the road and, supposing 
this to be Monroe's track, he followed it as far as he could dis- 
tinguish it. Then he went home, satisfied that he had seen the 
footsteps of the greatest man in tiie country. ** 

But there were so many happenings during the 
prolonged tour, so many evergreen arches passed under, 
so many unexpected sights such as that of a majestic 
live eagle looking down from its roadside perch as the 
President passed (and then set free to soar aloft) that 
it is impossible to enumerate them, much less dwell 
upon them. The people of New England, thinks 
Schouler, "longed for a reconciliation, for unity, for a 
new national development. " Monroe understood that 
longing and gratified it.* Why were Revolutionary 
flags and relics produced from old chests and ward- 
robes? What meant those arches of evergreens and 
festoons of roses, these pious visits to sires of '76 and 
the old battlefields; these gatherings of the Cincinnati 
and heroes of 1812, of soldiers and civilians, of Fed- 
eralists and Republicans in mass? Their united honors 
were not paid merely to the accidental incumbent of 
the chief oflSce. They were honors to the man, and 
indicated the general hope that under his administration 
national brofiierhood would be restored.'* Lynn, 
Marblehead, Salem, Newburyport, Portsmouth, York, 
Biddeford, Scarborough, Woodstock, and finally Port- 
land were visited in turn. At Portland, General Swift 
took his leave of Monroe and General Miller of New 
Hampshire joined his suite. Portland, July 6, was the 
easternmost point of the tour.^ A feature of great 
interest to Monroe was the outpouring of grandsires. 
At York it was an octogenarian, Judge Sewell, who spoke 
the welcome. At Judge Thatcher's in Portland the 

^ Accordinff to Schouler, m, 12, The "Era of Good Feeling" was first lued in 
Boston, at the time of Monroe*8 visit; Boston CenHnd, July 7, 1817. See Niles' 
RegUier, July 12 and 10, 1817. 

* For details of Monroe's Tour see Niles' RegifUr, Vol. XII, from March to 
September, 1817; also the numerous local histories of New England cities and 
towns. 



370 THE UFB OF JAMES MONROE 

venerable Deacon Samuel Chase, then in his ninety- 
ninth year, gave him his blessing. 

From Portland Monroe journeyed to Burlington, 
Vermont; Plattsburg, N. Y., by way of the wilderness 
known as Chateaugay woods to Sackett's Harbor; 
Niagara Falls and the battlefields of the vicinily; 
Buffalo; Detroit, and southward then through Ohio 
to Pittsburg, September 5 ; and, finally to Washington, 
September 18 — three and a half months after his 
departure. It was a great event in Monroe's life. 

Next year Monroe traveled in the opposite direction; 
Secretary Calhoun accompanied him on his journey 
of five thousand miles through the South. Mrs. 
St. Julien Ravenel in "Charleston: The Place and the 
People" tells of the visit to Charleston. In the party 
were "Mr. Calhoun's lady and family. Major Groieral 
Thomas Pinckney, Mr. Grouverneur, the President's 
private secretary, and Lieutenant Monroe, his nephew. 
Having spent the night at Colonel Jacob Bond Icon's 
plantation, about ten miles from the town, the party 
drove to Clement's Ferry, six miles up the river, near 
the present navy yard, and came thence in a large 
and handsome barge, rowed by twenty-five members 
of the Mariners' Society, steered by their President, 
Captain Thomas Jervey; the style very fine. The 
entertainments, inspections, reviews, fireworks, presen- 
tation of addresses, of societies, dinners, balls, etc., 
were much the same as those offered to Washington, 
with but two exceptions. On Friday, having visited 
the lines, ' he breakfasts at the villa of Joel R. Poinsett, 
Esqr.,'and on 'Saturday attends a grand concert and 
ball given in his honor by the St. Cecilia Society '." 
"It was the only occasion a St. Cecilia was ever given 
' to any one man.' Its times and seasons are as fixed 
as if ordered by the heavenly bodies. Lent alone 
disturbs its dates ! Saturday is unheard of ! That would 
hardly be a real St. Cecilia which did not begin on a 
Thursday at 9 p.m." Monroe stayed a week in 
Charleston. Promising to sit to S. F. B. Morse for a 




& t 



II 



I 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 871 

portrait to be hung in the Charleston Council Chamber, 
he took his leave of the citizens at Ashley River Bridge, 
declining a salute.^ 

From Charleston, Monroe went to Augusta; thence 
through the Cherokee region to Nashville, and after- 
wards to Louisville and Lexington.' 

These tours were talked of the country over. The 
people liked the idea. They felt that he was knitting 
the pieces together, in shuttling himself thus from one 
point to another. There was, then, this general good 
in addition to the particular good done in the com- 
munities where he showed himself — the last of the 
Fathers; the Chief Magistrate who thought enough 
of the people to come among them for actual hand- 
shaking and pleasant words. Here he actually was, this 
Virginian, said they; no longer a shadowy personage 
hidden under the mantle of authority but a man of 
flesh and blood, with kindness in his look. 

Until Monroe's time the White House was called 
"the President's House"; now it became the "Execu- 
tive Mansion." Cochrane and Ross had not quite 
destroyed it. Some of the vaulting was still good, and 
so were parts of the walls, arches and columns. Congress 
voted $500,000 to restore it and, fortunately, the work 
of restoration was in the hands of its original architect, 
James Hoban, bom in Dublin, Ireland, who, having 
seen that it was erected according to his plans now 
superintended its re-erection. In 1819 Congress set 
aside $8,137 for enlarging the oflSces just to the west, 
at the spot where the executive offices now stand. 
Adams says in his Diary, September 20, 1817: "Monroe 
returned last Wednesday. He is in the President's 



^ Charleston — the Flaoe and the People, by Mrs. St. Julien Ravenel, 1006. 
The St. Cecilia Society dates from 1737, Thursday being St. Cecilia's Day. Gen. 
C. C. Pinckney and Ralph Izard were members and performers in their youth. 

* Monroe "made personal examination of the arsenals, naval depots, fortifica- 
tions and garrisons along the northern border from Maine to Michigan, and passed 
down to Louisville, thence to Washington. He wore the undress uniform of an 
officer in the Revolutionary War — a blue military coat of homespun, light-colored 
underclothes and a cocked hat." Hiatory of Kentucky by Bioiard H. Collins. 
2 vols. Vol II, p. 568. 



872 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

House which is so fax restored from the effects of the 
British visit in 1814, that it is now for the first time 
habitable. But he is apprehensive of the effects of the 
fresh painting and plastering and very* desirous of 
visiting his family at his seat in Virginia. He is, there- 
fore, going again to leave the city in two or three days, 
but said his absence would only be for a short time." 

The National InteUigencery of January 2, 1818, speaks 
of the fine weather on New Year's, adding: "The 
President's House, for the first time since its re-aerifica- 
tion, was thrown open for the general reception of 
visitors. It was thronged from two to three o'clock 
by an unusually large concourse of ladies and gentle- 
men." Diplomats, Congressmen, the whole ofiicial 
world of Washington attended; and the Marine Corps 
was out in force. 

The outstanding events during Monroe's presidency 
may be counted on the fingers of one hand, if we use 
the thumb also to indicate tiie most important of all — 
the enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine. 

These chief events are: the Seminole War (1817- 
1818); the acquisition of Florida (1819-1821); the 
Missouri Compromise (1820); the veto of the Cum- 
berland road bill (1822) and the aforesaid Doctrine as 
set forth in the Presidential message of December 2, 
1823.1 

There were other considerable events to be sure — 
many of great interest. It was a time of notable 
changes. Napoleon, pacing his path on Longwood 
plateau at St. Helena, was caged for good; reforms 
were due in Great Britain, and, though reactionary 
elements had gained temporary power, there would be 
soon a return of liberalism in Europe. 

Before we take up the chief American events, let us 
indicate a few of the multitude of other matters with 



^ For Monroe's annual messages, from the first to the eighth, his many special 
messages and his two inaugural addresses, see Messages and Papers of the Presi- 
dents, by James D. Richardson, Vol. II, pp. 4-287. These official communications 
also appear in Writings of Monroe* Vols. VI and VII. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 873 

which Monroe was concerned.^ There were two serious 
boundary controversies — the Spanish and the British. 
Monroe settled the Northwestern dispute, "pro teniy 
by a treaty with Great Britain, providing that "the 
disputed region should be jointly occupied." 

As to the neutrality of the Great Lakes, ^ John 
Quincy Adams was instructed, January, 1816, to 
propose that steps be taken to prevent naval rivalry 
in that quarter. Madison wanted a "clean sweep" of 
all war vessels. The British Minister at Washington, 
Charles Bagot, received from Monroe, August 2, "a 
precise project for limiting the force." In January, 
1817, Lord Castlereagh replied, accepting the proposal. 
But the actual reduction occurred in 1818. Monroe*s 
proclamation on the subject was issued on the twentieth 
of April of that year. In justice to Gallatin, it should 
be noted that it was he who made "the first definite 
proposition of disarmament" — a wise and happy sug- 
gestion, indeed, fruitful of great good.* 

American fishery privileges were defined in a com- 
mercial convention with Great Britain. This was made 
in 1818. But the West Indian trade privileges were 
withheld for several years. There was much trouble 
in that quarter. Commodore O. H. Perry was sent 
thither to break up piracy. He died of yellow fever 
there. Finally in 1822, owing to a retaliatory act, 
West Indian trade was restored. 

Notwithstanding the heartiness with which Monroe 
had been received in New England, he understood 
that the kmdness shown him there came from the 



^ Direct taxatioD was twice invoked prior to the Civil War — in 1791 to meet 
the demands of the new government, and in 181S to provide funds for the war 
against Great Britain. "In both instances, however," says William Dana Orcutt in 
"Burrows of Michigan and the Republican Party," "direct taxation was abandoned 
at the earliest moment consistent with national honor and safety. The law of 1791 
remained in force but nine years and was repealed at the earnest solicitude of 
President Jefferson, while the Act of 181S, after having been on the statute but four 
years was expunged upon the reoonmiendation of President Monroe. " 

> Neutrality of the Lakes, by J. M. Callahan, Johns Hopkins Studies, Vol. XVI, 

1808. 

> H. Adams. "GalUtin." Vol. I, p. 640; J. Q. Adams' Memoirs, September 19, 

1814. 



374 THE LIFE OF JA3fES MONROE 

people themselves, rather than from the old Federal 
leaders. Aceordmg to the Monroe manuscripts, as 
cited by Schouler, the President was informed that 
of them all "only Webster and Lloyd could be trusted-" 
But Webster, who had lately moved to Boston, was 
not in the Fifteenth Congress, which met December 1, 
1817, adjourned April 20, 1818, re-assembled for its 
second session November 16, 1818, and expired March 
3, 1819. "Among Western Representatives in this 
Congress," says Schouler, "two heroes of the late war, 
William Henry Harrison, of Ohio, and Richard M. 
Johnson, of Kentucky, seemed inclined at present to 
follow Henry Clay^ into a sort of half opposition to 
Monroe's administration. Clay was constantly playing 
a larger part in affairs. He had his eye on the presi- 
dency. He thought of Monroe as the last of the old 
order, and of himself as the first of the new. He gave 
Monroe trouble with regard to the South American 
question. In the smnmer of 1817 Monroe appointed 
tJiree commissioners* — Ceesar Augustus Rodney, 
John Graham and Theodorick Bland to go to South 
America "to obtain information of the actual condition 
and political prospects of the Spanish provinces which 
were contending for independence." When the bill 
came up, March 24, 1818, appropriating $30,000 for 
the expenses of the commissioners. Clay moved to 

^ Clay once advised Robert C. Winthrop what to do when in the Speaker's Chair: 
"Decide — decide promptly — and never give your reasons for the decisions. 
The House will sustain your decisions, but there will always be men to cavil and 
quarrel as to your reasons. ** Clay, says Winthrop, was a man of singularly fasci- 
nating address and magnetic qualities, attracting admirers and friends on ever>' 
side. As he sometimes sauntered across the Senate Chamber, taking a pinch of 
snuff out of one friend's box and offering his own to another, he was a picture of 
affability and nonchalance. He had "the genial jaunty air of Lord Palmerston: 
but, like Palmerston, he could be *lofty and sour,* too.** But he was quick to 
apologize and was unresentful. When Randolph called him a "blackleg in contrast 
with Puritan Adams'* and they had fought. Clay was quick to make up. He vast!} 
preferred whist to dueling. Winthrop says that in Boston in 1818 while Clay was 
at the whist table in the Exchange Coffee House, the cry was raised that the hotel 
was on fire. "Oh, there will be time enough, I think, to finish our game, '* said Clay; 
and finish it they did. As for the hotel, it was burned to the ground. 

' These Commissioners made a strong impression at Buenos Ayres and elsewhere 
in South America. Rodney, an able and energetic man took his whole family with 
him. His letters illuminate the times he lived in. His life has been ably ^Titten in 
Spanish by Dr. Enrique Loudet of Buenos Ayreit 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE S75 

amend by adding; "And one year's salary and outfit 
to a Minister to the United Provinces of Rio de La 
Plata, the sum not to exceed $18,000." Had this 
passed, the United States would practically have 
recognized the independence of the Spanish provinces. 
Schurz^ says truly; "It was a st^p in advance, not 
only of the country and of the government but of the 
whole civilized world." He wanted the neutrality 
measure of 1817 repealed and everything done to help 
the insurgents. "South America had set his imagina- 
tion on fire." Finally, his contemptuous fiings at the 
President and Secretary of State displeased a large 
part of the House. It was well known that Monroe 
and Adams were not at all unfriendly to the insurgent 
colonies; only they wanted to be sure that the new 
governments had the necessary element of stability to 
justify recognition; they hoped to obtain the co-opera- 
tion of England in that recognition; they desired to 
avoid the embarrassment which a hasty recognition 
would cause the negotiations between the United 
States and Spain concerning the cession of Florida; 
and, finally, they wanted to be assured that the public 
opinion of the country would sustain them in so 
important a step. The motion was defeated one 
hundred and fifteen to forty-five. "Monroe," says 
SchurzS "was terribly disturbed by Clay's attack. 
Monroe was perfectly right." He and Adams were 
acting like broad and thorough statesmen in the 
Florida and South American matters; Clay like a 
politician bidding for popularity. In the next session 
Clay and Jackson clashed; and we shall now see why. 

We approach a new and curious drama, with plots 
and characters enough to work into a spectacular 
five-act historical play; and, for the sake of a short 
title, we call it "The Seminoles." Not to involve 
ourselves, we must go back to the point where we left 
the story of the Floridas and come forward in an 

^ Life and Times of Henry Clay, by Carl Schurs, 2 vols. Vol. I, p. 210. 
* Life of Henry Clay, by Carl Schurz, Vol. !• p. 161. et seq. 



376 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

orderly manner, Spain still owned what is now Florida 
and stiU claimed the Mobile region or West Florida. 
We also claimed it as a part of the Louisiana pur- 
chase. Apparently, the wish with us was largely father 
to our claim. Not that Madison and Monroe were 
merely covetous, and without justification. Reasons 
why we should have the Gulf outlets to our Georgia, 
Alabama and Mississippi rivers were so clear as to 
hardly need enumeration. And was there ever worse 
misgovernment than that of Spain, whose South 
American provinces were in revolt? She could not 
even put down an insurrection in West Florida. The 
revolting people there applied to the American Secre- 
tary of State for annexation. "Here," comments 
Babcock^ " was the whole thing in a nutshell — a 
desirable province, a convenient claim under the ambig- 
uous treaty, a weak and troubled opponent, and a 
shadowy * third party' eager to snatch the prize away. 
. . . The solution was Madison's remarkable procla- 
mation of October 27, 1810." Madison acquiesced in 
**the temporary continuance of Spanish authority over 
West Florida," and declared "that friendly negotiation 
and adjustment would be continued," but he directed 
Governor W. C. C. Claiborne, of Mississippi Territory, 
to take possession, nevertheless. Later, part of West 
Florida was annexed to Louisiana and the rest to 
Mississippi, May 14, 1812. Was there a violation of 
Spanish rights in all this? There is a suggestion of self- 
beguilement, of speciousness, in the whole aflfair, which 
should only be defended on open ground, to wit: Ferdi- 
nand, King of Spain, was corrupt, vicious, and a hater 
of republics. No one denies the right of the South 
American republics to govern themselves — why should 
not West Florida? And for that matter East Florida? 
Don Luis de Onis, Spanish Minister at Washington, 
understood the situation. He knew that the time was 
near when Spain must withdraw from what may be 
called the natural territory of the United States, and 

^ Rise of American Nationality, by K. C. Babcock, p. 24. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 877 

his policy was to bide his time until he could secure the 
best possible terms. His policy was one of delay. But 
the Georgians said they would no longer put up with 
the outrages on their southern border. As a case in 
point, we have the Amelia Island incident. This island 
at the mouth of the St. Mary's River, which flows 
into the Atlantic where Femandina stands, a little 
way below the Georgia line, and therefore, at that 
time just without the jurisdiction of the United States, 
became the resort of Gregor McGregor's band of out- 
laws recruited in Savannah and Charleston. A similar 
gang of slave smugglers and freebooters was at Gal- 
veston on the Texas coast. When Monroe returned from 
his northern tour in the fall of 1817, he took up in 
Cabinet meeting the depredations of these gangs. Spain 
would not, or could not, suppress them. The thing to 
do was to send down naval vessels to break up the 
nests. It was an easy task in each case. Buccaneer 
Aury, who had succeeded McGregor, had but one 
hundred and fifty men all told at Amelia Island. Once 
more was it demonstrated that the arm of the Don no 
longer reached to Florida.^ Spain threatened war, but 
the cloud vanished at the next smile of Don Luis 
de Onis. 

The suppression of the buccaneers mended matters 
only a little while. There were other lawless ones in 
Florida. Runaways, cast-oflFs and refugees — black, 
white, red — sought safety among the Seminoles, or 
"Wanderers,** or "Lost People," an offshoot of the 
Creeks, who had migrated into the long peninsula and 
who thought themselves beyond paleface reach. Listen- 
ing to the mocking-birds in the Everglades, they 
hearkened also to Spanish and British adventurers 
who poisoned their minds against the Americans. 
Colonel Edward Nichols was an especially enterprising 
enemy of the United States. He had served as British 
commander in Florida during the War of 1812. Though 

' See Schouler, III, p. 24, el seq.; Monroe's second annuml message, November, 
1818 and message of January IS. 1818; Adams' Diary, IV; Monroe Mss. 



378 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

peace had come, Nichols built a fort fifteen miles from 
the mouth of the Appalachicola — "Negro Fort," 
manned by three hundred negroes — and armed about a 
thousand men, many of whom were Seminoles and 
Creeks. He made a treaty with the Creeks and took 
some of them to England with him. But Lord Bathurst 
shrugged his civilized shoulders. He was more squeam- 
ish than Nichols. He could not stomach such a treaty. 
But he pleased the Creek chiefs with gifts and sent 
them back. Meantime a United States gunboat ascend- 
ing the Appalachicola, destroyed "Negro Fort** with 
red-hot shot. Considering all these things — hostile 
Indians, buccaneers and a fortified rendezvous for 
runawrys — no wonder the people of Georgia threat- 
ened to march into East Florida, seize it and annex it. 
Somebody else was impatient likewise — Andrew Jack- 
son, of " by-the-etemal " fame. 

Jackson, as well as Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, 
helped to build the Gulf side of the mansion of the 
Republic. He had done a good job at New Orleans, 
and now he proposed to do another. He knew fairly 
well what was going on at Washington. Not only was 
he in correspondence with Monroe, but he had his 
friends in Congress, who wrote to him from time to 
time concerning the secret sessions and secret acts* 
of that body. He had reason to believe that the govern- 
ment was fingering the Floridian nettle with a great 
desire to possess it, yet with the usual diplomatic 
timidity. He had rebuked the War Department 
because it had ignored him in transmitting an order 
directly in the Nashville division, and had instructed 
his subordinates to disobey such orders in the future. 
He had also threatened General Winfield Scott with a 
duel. In a word, the hero of New Orleans disbelieved 
in fingering nettles. Monroe understood Jackson. 
"He had a liking for him," says Schouler, "as a genuine 
patriot, one of exalted traits; and wished to be a little 

* For the Acts of January 15, and March 3, 1811 and February 12, 1813, see 
Uoited States Statutes at Large, III, 471. 



THE LIFE OF JA3fES MONROE 879 

blind to faults, while generously estimating his virtues. 
. . . Jackson was strongly attached at the present 
time to Monroe. He had supported him for President 
and owned the kindliness and generosity of his nature. 
But Monroe and Jackson were men of a diflFerent mould; 
nor did the sycophants of the latter fail to excite his 
ardor by flattering comparison with those of higher 
station. . . . Monroe understood himself, however, 
as Chief Magistrate, while Jackson and his intimates 
had most likely expected to find him pliable. Why 
otherwise should Jackson, warm friend though he was, 
and ardent and impulsive in his own course of conduct, 
have undertaken to tutor and push the President into 
difficulties so confidently at the outset?*' 

In November, 1817, General Edmund Pendleton 
Gaines, commanding on the Florida border, remon- 
strated with the Seminole Chief at Fowlton near the 
Georgia line. The chief threatened further violence. 
Gaines ^ sent Colonel D. E. Twiggs, who, at Fowlton, 
discovered evidence that its chief was allied with the 
outlaws. Twiggs burnt Fowlton. Nine days later the 
Indians retaliated. They ambushed and massacred all 
but five of forty men who, under Lieutenant Scott, 
with many women and children, were ascending the 
Appalachicola to Fort Scott, a stockade on the Flint 
above its junction with the Chattahoochee. But for 
the few who escaped to tell of the horrors, the massacre 
was complete. A shock passed over the country — and 
then a thrill, when news came that Jackson had been 
ordered to gather up re-enforcements and proceed from 
Nashville to take command of the American troops. 

Before Jackson left Nashville, he wrote to Monroe 
his famous letter of January 6, 1818. This is the Rhea 
letter^ so much talked of. In it Jackson urged the 

• 

^ For an aocount of Gaines's life see Robinson's Anny of the United States* pp. 800 
et 9eq.; for Twiggs, see Life of Twiggs. 

' John Rhea was Representative in Congress from Tennessee from 1808 to 1815. 
Webster telis how he and Rhea, on a House Committee, waited on Madison and 
found "little Jinmiie" sick in bed. Rhea was in Congress from 1817 to 1888. In 
1816 he was appointed United States Conmiissioner to treat with the Choctaws. 
In the Diary of John Quincy Adams there are some references to Rhea. Edward 



S80 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

immediate seizm^ of East Florida.^ "Let it be signi- 
fied to me," he said, "through any channel (say Mr. J. 
Rhea) that the possession of the Floridas would be 
desirable to the United States, and in sixty days it 
will be accomplished.** 

With that Jackson was off. Again was he in his 
glory. Thin, sinewy, tall, he looked well when standing 
but better still on horseback, as now he was, hurrying 
to the far Appalachicola. His hollow-cheeked face was 
long and narrow, his brow serious and lowering, his 
nose high and long, his eyes "cold, grey, piercing in 
the highest degree, with crowsfeet skinfolds beneath; 
his mouth and chin expressive of stern decision.** 
Such was the old eagle. 

With a thousand men, he marched four hundred and 
fifty miles in forty-six days. It was winter; the rivers 
ran high; and **the ground was so rotten** that even 
pack-horses could not pass.* But he entered Florida, 
built a fort and investigated. He learned that Alex- 
ander Ar buthnot, a Scotchman, and Robert Christer 

N. Vallandigham, author of many excellent studies in American politics, favors 
the present writer with a letter on the subject of Rhea. The assumption that Rhea 
lacked in some essential quality because he was spoken of as ** Johnny Rhea" is 
i^Tong. It was a custom in the Southwest thus to use a touch of familiarity in 
referring to one's political leader. For instance William H. Cra^-ford was "Billy 
Crafford. ** In a letter to Dr. Vallandigham, Knoxville, May 0, 1903, John L. Rhea, 
grandson of Congressman Rhea, said: **Mr. Rhea was the son of a Presbyterian 
clergyman, Rev. Joseph Rhea, born in Donegal, Ireland, and educated at Glasgow, 
Scotland. He married Elizabeth Mcllvaine; and, in 1760, with his wife, four sons 
and two daughters came to this country and located in Maryland. He had charge 
of Piney Creek Church in said state; preached here until 1776. . . With his eldest 
son John he visited the Holston country — now Tennessee. He was with Colonel 
Christian fighting the Indians at the Battle of Long Island, near Kingsport. He 
bought land on Beaver Creek in Sullivan Co." He returned to Mar>'land to get 
his family but died at Piney Creek, September 20, 1777. John Rhea, bom in 
Ireland in 1753, moved his father's famil>' to Sullivan County. The homestead 
established by him is still occupied by the Rheas. John Rhea went to Princeton. 
He began the study of law, but quit it to 6ght. With his brother Matthew he was 
in Brandywine battle. Matthew was a Captain in the Seventh Virginia. John was 
at King's Mountain, and a member of tiie Constitutional Convention of North 
Carolina. In 1796 he helped to frame the Constitution of Tennessee. 

^ Schouler's History, Vol. Ill, p. 69 et seq.; Schouler's Historic Briefs, pp. 97-126. 
Magazine of American History, October, 1884; Colton's Clay, "The Cause of 
Great Effects," Vol. I, pp. 253-257; Life of General Abner Lacock, United SUtes 
Senutor from Pennsylvania, from 1813 to 1819, and a friend of Monroe. Lacock 
has a chapter on the Rhea letter. 

* Parton, Vol. II, p. 442 et seq,: Niles's Register, XIV; Van Buren's Autobiography, 
pp. 336, 383. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 881 

Ambrister of New Providence, an ex-British lieuten- 
ant of the Negro Marines, with one Woodbine and 
others, had joined with the "prophets" — Francis, or 
Hillis, Hugo and Peter McQueen — in stirring up the 
Red Sticks against the United States.^ Jackson tried 
the white ringleaders. They claimed to be traders. 
Arbuthnot* had a schooner at St. Marks. He was 
hanged m her rigging. Ambrister was shot. Then 
Jackson captured Pensacola. Florida now was his.* 

Taking Spanish territory was one thing, executing 
British subjects was another. ' Minister Richard Rush 
reported from London what Lord Castlereagh had 
remarked to him; "If the Ministry had but held up a 
finger," said his Lordship, "there would have been 
war." 

Whatever the excitement in Great Britain, there 
certainly was a great stir at Washington and throughout 
the United States.* At a Cabinet Council held upon 
receipt of the sensational news, Jackson was con- 
demned by every member, except John Quincy Adams, 
as having gone too far. It was decided to disavow the 
proceedings. An order was issued restoring St. Marks 
and Pensacola to Spain; and, as soon as it was learned 
that Jackson had ordered Gaines to occupy St. Augus- 
tine, the occupation, order was countermanded. 

Congress too, reviewed the episode. Abner Lacock, 
of Pennsylvania, was the chairman of a special Senate 
conmiittee, and Thomas M. Nelson of Virginia, chair- 



^ Variouflly referred to in the letters of the time. Frandt Hillisihago and Homot- 
limot, or Homot Henrico, participant in the Appalachicola massacre, were leaden 
in the outrages. Gen. George Gibson, the Colonel and Quartermaster General in 
Jackson's army, and Captain McKeever of the Navy, were the two Commanden 
who hung the Seminole chiefs. 

* Trial of Arbuthnot and Ambrister, Memoirs of Jackson by S. Putnam Waldo^ 
p. 804, et seq. 

* Sixteen years later, the Seminoles began a hunt on their side of the line and 
got across in the zest of the chase. The whites took some of them. This led to 
retaliation, the massacre of Major Dade's men and the outbreak of the Seminole 
War of 1836. Osceola, or Asseyahola, or PoweU, son of a white father and a Muscogee 
mother, was the hero of the war — a favorite theme of the novelists. 

f For further facts see Niles's Register,^ Vols. XV and XVI; Parton's Jackson, 
Vol. U; Sumner's Jackson: Buelrs Jackson; Colton's Jackson; The Florida 
Border, by Gen. Samuel Dale; and Lives of Eaton, Goodwin, FhMt and Duaenbery. 



88S THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

man of a House committee, to take evidence and report 
A long debate followed. In the House, on the final vote, 
Jackson's conduct was approved by one hundred to 
seventy. In the Senate no vote was taken on the con- 
demnatory report of the conmiittee. 

As for Jackson he was in his glory. Not only had 
he no compunctions for what he had done, but he felt 
that Monroe and Calhoun were secretly pleased at the 
turn of affairs. His Washington friends assured him 
that Calhoun had spoken up for him at the Cabinet 
meeting. It did not matter what the government should 
do for eflFect abroad — that was to be expected; he was 
pleased to think that Calhoun was his backer as well 
as Monroe. As a matter of fact, Calhoim was his 
severest critic at the Cabinet council. Calhoun sug- 
gested that Jackson ought to be court-martialed. 
What happened in the Cabinet meeting is set forth 
in the Diary of John Quincy Adams. But not until long 
after did Jackson know the truth. When he did learn 
it there was trouble — as we shall see, for there was a 
sequel to the Rhea letter and to Calhoun's utterance 
in the Cabinet on the day news came of Jackson's 
Seminole seizure.^ On the way up from Nashville to 
Washington, Jackson gave a toast at Winchester, Va. 
It was: "John C. Calhoun; an honest man is the 
noblest work of God." He would not permit himself 
to be lionized at Washington, seeing that Congress was 
investigating his conduct; but in Baltimore, in Phila- 
delphia (where he had once been criticized for wearing 
an eel-skin queue) and in New York, he was the man 
of the hour. New York Common-Council voted him a 
gold snuflF-box. Doubly a hero, he found followers 
elsewhere. 

As we have said, Secretary Adams took Jackson's 
side, defending him "on the high ground of inter- 
national law as expounded by Grotius, Vattel and 
Puffendorf. "Confound Grotius! Confound Vattel! 
Confound Puffendorf!" said Jackson, when he heard 

» See Ch^ter XV of this book, pp. 450-452. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 883 

of it; "this is a matter between Jim Mom^oe and me.'** 
No doubt the Seminole episode expedited the settle- 
ment of the Florida question. By the treaty with 
Spain, arranged between Secretary Adams and Don 
Luis de Onis, Spanish Minister, February 22, 1819, 
East and West Florida were secured for $5,000,000 
in bonds similar to those issued for the purchase of 
Louisiana. With interest, $1,489,768, the total cost 
was $6,489,768. The territory acquired contained 
59,268 square miles, or 37,931,520 acres. The cost 
per acre was seventeen and one-tenth cents. 

There was a slight ruffle on the smooth surface of 
things because Spain was slow to deliver Florida and 
Clay in Congress grew vehement again, but the short 
session passed with Monroe as master of the situation. 
"Colonel Monroe has some enemies here," wrote 
Judge Spencer Roane from Richmond, February 19 
1820; "and they have been at work." Other letters 
are extant bearing upon the same theme, and conveying 
the same information. "Such is the state of feelmg" 
(on the Missouri question) wrote St. George Tucker, 
from Williamsburg, February 11, "that Mr. Monroe 
must, I am satisfied, make up his mind to retain his 
Southern friends or exchange them for those of the 
North. He cannot keep both." But, all things con- 
sidered, Monroe was fortunate in having a clear field. 
The Congressional caucus was held in April. Only 
forty members attended it, and Monroe was put 
through in short order. 

Twenty-four States took part in the ninth presiden- 
tial election of 1820. Monroe with two hundred and 
thirty-one electoral votes as against one electoral vote 
for John Quincy Adams, carried all the States, as did 
Vice-President D. D. Tompkins with two hundred and 
eighteen votes. Richard Stockton for Vice-President 
received eight votes; Daniel Rodney, four; Robert 
G. Harper, one, and Richard Rush, one; "Vacancies," 
for both President and Vice-President, three. 



^ Ben Perley Poore's Beminisoenoes, Vol. L p. 1(17. 



384 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

But since the vote was so nearly unanimous, why was 
it not quite so? According to C. O. Paullin^ here is 
the explanation: ''That the one vote in the electoral 
colleges of 1820 withheld from James Monroe, for 
President, was that of William Plumer» of New Hamp- 
shire, is somewhat generally known among historic^ 
writers. The reason for Plumer's action is not so weD 
known. Indeed, most historians attribute to him an 
erroneous reason. They usually state that one New 
Hampshire elector withheld his vote from Monroe in 
order to prevent that statesman from sharing an honor 
previously accorded Washington alone. . . . The true 
reason for Plumer's action is stated in a letter that he 
wrote to his son, William Plumer, Jr., on January 8, 
1821, and that is now found in the Plumer papers. 
Division of Manuscripts, Library of Congress. Prom 
this letter the following extract is taken : *I was obliged 
from a sense of duty and a regard to my own reputation 
to withhold my vote from Monroe and Tompkins ; from 
the first because he had discovered a want of foresight 
and from the second because he had grossly neglected 
his duty.* Plumer voted for Richard Rush for Vice- 
President. Contemporary impressions of Plumer *s 
action possess considerable interest. His son, who was 
a Representative in Congress, writes: *I received many 
congratulations on this vote of my father, from sudi 
men as Randolph, Macon and other Republicans of the 
old school. Not that they like Adams; (Randolph 
assailed him with the fury of hereditary hate); but 
they disliked Monroe, whom they regarded as having 
adopted, chiefly from the influence of Calhoun, some 
of the worst heresies of the old Federal party.*' 

But the New Hampshire Sentinel was not so flattering 
to old Governor Plumer, who, by the by, with incon- 
sistency, wrote Monroe a welcoming letter when the 
President passed through New Hampshire on his 
northern tour. In its issue of December 16, 1820, The 
Sentinel s aid : " Every one who knows anything about 

1 In the American Historical Review, Vol. XXI, pp. S18-319. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 885 

that odd old gentleman would have guessed as much 
and, as his propensity is to be singular and overwise 
was probably ungovernable, it is well that he voted 
for the man who would, on the whole, be most accept- 
able to the people of this State as the successor of 
Mr. Monroe. But this vote is to be regretted, because 
it will probably be the only one throughout the United 
States in opposition to the re-election of the present 
incumbent and thus to prevent a unanimous election 
will be pronounced sheer folly. " 

For his part, John Quincy Adams deeply regretted 
Plumer's act, "as it implied a disapprobation of 
Monroe's administration. '* 

Justice Joseph Story wrote to Ezekiel Bacon, Wash- 
ington, March 12, 1818: "There is a great deal of 
gayety, splendor, and as I think, extravagance in the 
manners and habits of the city. The old notions of 
republican simplicity are fast wearing away, and tjie 
public taste becomes more and more gratified with 
public amusements and parade. Mr. Monroe, however, 
still retains his plain and gentlemanly manners, and 
is in every respect a very estimable man. But the 
Executive has no longer a commanding influence. 
The House of Representatives has absorbed all the 
popular feeling and all the effective powers of the 
coimtry. Even the Senate cowers under its lofty 
pretensions to be the guardians of the people and its 
rights. ''1 

Judge Joseph Story wrote to his wife, Washington, 
March 6, 1821 : 

"... Yesterday was the day appointed for the 
Inauguration of the President, upon his re-appointment 
to office. The weather was very inclement in the 
morning, a violent storm having set in. Towards noon, 
however, it abated, and a vast crowd was collected in 
the Capitol to witness the ceremony. It was, according 
to arrangement, to be performed in the Chamber of 

^ Life and Letters of Joseph Story, Edited by his son, William W. Story, 1851; 
2 vols. Vol. L pp. 910, dlL 



886 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

the House of Representatives. This is a most splendid 
and magnificent hall in the shape of a horseshoe, having 
a colonnade of marble pillars round the whole circular 
sweep, which ascend to, and support a lofty dome. 
The galleries for spectators are about midway the 
pillars, and the seats gradually rise as they recede. 
The hall was early thronged wiUi ladies and gentlemen 
of the first distinction, who had come from the neigh- 
boring cities to witness the scene. The whole area was 
crowded to excess, and the galleries appeared to be 
almost weighed down by their burden. About twelve 
the President came into the hall, dressed in a plain 
suit of black broadcloth, with a single-breasted coat 
and waistcoat, the latter with flaps in the old fashion. 
He wore also small-clothes, with silk stockings and 
shoes with gold buckles in tJiem. His appearance was 
very impressive. He placed himself in a chair usually 
occupied by the Clerk of the House of Representatives, 
facing the whole audience. On his right was the Presi- 
dent of the Senate and on his left the Speaker of the 
House. The Secretaries of all the Departments sat in 
a row on the right, and, on the left, all the foreign 
ministers and their suites, dressed out in their most 
splendid court dresses, and arranged according to their 
rank. Immediately in front of the President, at a small 
distance, were placed seven chairs for the Judges, who, 
upon notice, after the arrival of the President, went 
into the hall in their judicial robes, attended by the 
Marshal. The Chief Justice was immediately requested 
to take the chair on the left of the President, who soon 
afterwards rose, and the Chief Justice administered 
the oath of oflSoe. The President then delivered his 
inaugural speech, the Chief Justice, the foreign Minis- 
tCTs, the President of tiie Senate and the Speaker of the 
House remaBung standing. The rest of the audience 
wherever they could remained seated. As soon as 
the speech was concluded, the marine corprs of musicians 
who were in the gallery played *Hail Columbia,* which 
was succeeded by ^Yankee Doodle' and after some 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 887 

hurrahs from the crowd, the President received the 
congratulations of the assembly and retired. Alto- 
gether, the scene was truly strilang and grand. There 
was a simple dignity about it which excited very 
pleasing sensations. The fine collection of beautiful 
and interesting women, dressed with great elegance, 
the presence of so many men of talents, character and 
public services, civil and military — the majestic 
stretch of the hall itself, the recollection of our free 
and happy situation, all combined to produce a most 
profound feeling of interest. I do not know that J 
ever was more impressed by a public spectacle. *'* 

After the ceremony at the Capitol, hundreds pro- 
ceeded to the White House where they congratulated 
the President and Mrs. Monroe on the happy auspices 
under which his second term had begun. "All the 
world was there," adds Judge Story: "hackney coaches, 
private carriages, foreign ministers and their suites, 
were immediately in motion, and the very ground 
seemed beaten into powder or paste under the tram- 
pling of horses and the rolling of wheels. The scene lasted 
untU three o'clock, and then all things resumed their 
wonted tranquility.'* The Judge himself for instance, 
could go back to his patient examination of cases or 
read his Jane Austen, of whom he was one of the 
first as well as most ardent admirers. 

Monroe was now sixty years old. He had lived to see 
the United States acquire great and noble expanses of 
territory. He himself had been instnunental in enlarg- 
ing and securing the boundaries of the land he loved.* 
It is true Texas was still to come in, the Oregon claim 
was unadjusted, and California was to be a prize of 
the future, but Monroe's fears had been dissipated and 
his hopes realized. 

Yet there was a fly in the ointment. Monroe had 

^ Life and Letters of Joaeplt Story, Vol. I, pp. SS9-40I. 

' In a reference to John Quin^ Adams's despatch proyin^ that the Rio Grande 
was the western boundary of Texas, Clark £. Gut, in his Life of Stephen A. 
Douglas, 1909, says: This was the opinion of Mesara. Monroe and Pindmey in 
1805." 



388 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

hardly felicitated himself upon the security of the 
republic in consequence of its territorial aloofness &om 
foreign enemies when, like Jefferson, he was struck 
a-back by the menace of slavery. Abuse Jefferson as they 
may, his critics confess that he hoped in his heart for 
relief from this ominous evil. He wrote from Monti- 
cello: *'This momentous question, like a firebell in the 
night, awakened and filled me with terror. I consid- 
ered it at once the knell of the Union." Subsequently, 
he seemed to see with the eyes of a prophet, and said 
that, though the storm would lash us we should with- 
stand and outride it. We take on prejudices easily 
while in this mortal clay; and no historical misjudg- 
ment is so common as the off-hand condemnation of 
Slave-State statesmen. The very fact that they came 
thence is deemed suflBcient warrant to neglect them or 
minimize whatever merits they may be grudgingly 
allowed. This is not only unfair to them, but perverts 
history, injecting bias where truth should be. Many 
of those men — notably Jefferson, Madison and Mon- 
roe — labored as best they could, not only to prevent 
the extension of slavery, but to rid the country of it. 
Madison, in 1831, spoke of slavery as a "dreadful 
calamity.'* "In an old age rendered bright with opti- 
mism," says Gaillard Hunt, "slavery was the one dark 
object that hung over him.'* Harriet Martineau, who 
visited him at Montpelier, wrote: "With regard to 
slavery, he owned himself almost in despair." 

Monroe wanted to repatriate the free blacks to Africa. 
Monrovia in Liberia is a namesake capital. He and 
Jefferson had corresponded on the subject as far back 
as 1801. The first colonization society was organized 
at Princeton in 1816. On December 23, of that year, 
the Virginia Legislature invited the attention of the 
United States Government to the matter. At this 
same Christmas time the National Colonization So- 
ciety was organized at Washington. Judge Bushrod 
Washington, nephew of General Washington, was its 
first president and The African Repository became its 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE S89 

organ. Many of its members lived in the South; and 
they laid the flattering unction to their souls that the 
blacks could be deported to the region from which they 
had come, taking with them what they had learned 
and foimding there a free and happy commonwealth. 
They were idealists, with troubled consciences. As yet 
they were unhectored; and their generous feeling was 
spontaneous. The animating thought was to bring 
about emancipation, without economic or political 
violence. 

At least that was the motive of many; but it is 
equally true that others hoped to rid the coimtry of 
the free blacks and the free blacks only.^ However, 
as most of the emancipation leaders of the coming 
decades began as colonizationists* — such as Benjamin 
Limdy, James G. Bimey and Gerrit Smith — it is 
clear that the society was truly reformatory in char- 
acter and not a sham or makeshift. 

Sierra Leone, a British colony, was first used as a 
colonization point; next, in 1820, Sherbro Island; and, 
finally, December 15, 1821, Cape Mesurado. 

It was Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry who 
selected the site of Monrovia. The first site on Sherbro 
Island in the estuary of Sherbro River, as pitched upon 
by the American Colonization Society was foimd to be 
malarial. In 1832, Perry hoisted the American flag 
over Cape Mesurado. "Shortly afterward,'* says 
William EUiot Griffis, in his " Life of M. C. Perry," 
"Monrovia, the future capital, named after President 
Monroe, began its existence. To this form of the 
Monroe Doctrine European nations have fully ac- 
ceded. Liberia is the only colony founded by the 
United States.*'* John Quincy Adams — "hard as 

^ "The whole scheme was but a palliative, and in fact rather tended to strengthen 
slavery by taking away the disquieting presence of free blacks among the slaves" — 
Hart, Formation of the Union. 

' American Political History, 1783-1876, by Alexander Johnston, 2 vols. Vol. II, 
pp. 44, 45. 

* Matthew Calbraith Peiry, by William Elliot Griffis, 1887. For Commodore 
Stockton's voyage to libvia, see Life of Robert F. StocktoOt by S. J. Bayard, 
1868, p. 89. 



890 THB UFB OF JAMES MONROE 

a piece of granite and cold as a lump of ice "* — was not 
in agreement with Monroe in respect to the coloniza- 
tion idea. He thought it visionary and compared it 
with the project of John Cleves Symmes of going to 
the North Pole and traveling within the nutshell of 
the earth.* 

The time had come (1818-1821) to take in the States 
carved out of the Louisiana land, of which the upper 
region was known as Missouri Territory. Now slaves 
were held there under the old French and Spanish law 
and continued to be held under American territorial 
law. In December, 1818, a bill was introduced in the 
House of Representatives providing for the government 
of Arkansas Territory. Taylor of New York put in a 
word. He wanted a proviso — let slavery be prohibited 
there. McLane of Delaware got over the difficulty 
with the suggestion that a line be drawn and fix^ 
west of the Mississippi "north of which slavery could 
not be tolerated.** 

When Arkansas Territory was organized, March 2, 
1819, no mention was made of slavery. Less easily 
disposed of was the case of Missouri. The people there 
sent a petition to Congress asking that they be allowed 
to form a constitution. This petition was presented 
in the House on March 16, 1818. On April 6, the com- 
mittee to which the petition was referred reported an 
enabling act; but nothing further was done in the 
matter at that session of Congress. On February 13, 
1819, Tallmadge of New York offered an amendment 
to the enabling act prohibiting slavery in Missouri 
except in the case of crime. At once, the great sections 
showed their colors — the issue was drawn. The North 
voted for, the South against, the Tallmadge amend- 
ment. Rufus King led the debate on one side, John 
Randolph of Roanoke on the other. The House voted 
for the proviso, but the Senate struck it out. The 



^ What I Remember, by Thomas Adolphus TroUope, quoting from a letter of 
T. C. Grattan, p. 503. 
s Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, Vol. IV, p. S55. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONfiOE 891 

bill was lost, but when Congress adjourned March 8, 
1819, the battle of the sections was begun. 

When the new Congress (the sixteenth) met on the 
sixth of December, Alabama was admitted, December 
14, and the admission of Maine was agreed to by the 
House, January 3, 1820. But the Senate put a Mis- 
souri "rider" on the Maine measure, twenty-three to 
twenty-one. On February 17, Thomas of Illinois 
offered an amendment, suggested by McLane of Dela- 
ware, dividing the Louisiana purchase on a line between 
slave and free. The Senate voted yea, but the House 
disagreed. Then came the crisis, Mardi 3, 1820, when 
Congress voted to admit Missouri without slave pro- 
hibition, but with the proviso that no slavery should 
be permitted north of 36° 30'. This was the first 
compromise. When the Missourians in their new con- 
stitution excluded free blacks another compromise was 
necessary. This, as suggested by Clay, was that "the 
Missourians were to agree not to deprive of his rights 
any citizen of another State." As thus shaped the 
Missouri bills reached Monroe for his signature. He 
submitted two questions to his Cabinet: "(1) Whether 
the prohibition of slavery was constitutional, an^ (2) 
whether the word * forever* was a * territorial ' forever, 
or applicable to States formed from the Territory in 
future.** There was no dissenting voice in the first 
question; but on the second there was a division. Cal- 
houn thereupon combined the two into this: "Was the 
Thomas amendment constitutional?" All said yes; 
and Monroe signed the bill March 6, 1820.^ 

Monroe burned the midnight oil — a conscientious 
and laborious student of public questions. John Quincy 
AdaEis used to notice a light in the President's apart- 
ment long after others were in bed. The matter of 
internal improvements concerned him. How far ought 
the government to go? 

The need of better roads was felt all tiie time, but 
especially while the war was on. Another reminder of 

1 JohnstonrPoliticftl Hbtoiy, Vol. II, p. 116. 



392 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

this need, and of the desirability of canals, was the 
country's great expansion. During the first year of 
Monroe's incumbency, twenty-two thousand immi- 
grants, mostly Irish, arrived. Multitudes of people 
were moving west. The Erie Canal was begun a little 
after Monroe went in, and finished a little while after 
he went out. But the Erie Canal was constructed by 
the State of New York. Could Federal money be 
constitutionally used in such great works? There was 
the Cumberland Road, begun in 1806, and well known 
as "The National Turnpike.*' In JeflFerson's time, with 
surplus in the Treasury, thanks to Gallatin, there had 
been little question as to the power of Congress to vote 
money for building this road from Cumberland to Wheel- 
ing. Jeflferson had compunctions about it, however, 
and talked of tiie desirability of a constitutional amend- 
ment. Madison agreed with him, and, similarly, Mon- 
roe could not rid himself of strict construction ideas on 
the subject. Calhoun could; so could Clay; they had 
no scruples about it; how nonsensical to let great 
improvements be blocked for lack of specific authoriza- 
tion! Just before the end of Madison's second term. 
Congress set aside the bonus due the government from 
the United States bank for use in improving the 
Ciunberland road. 

Madison vetoed this measure, March 3, 1817, in his 
last message^ to Congress. His point was that the 
Constitution did not specifically grant the power under 
which Congress could vote money for internal improve- 
ments. Could the general wellfare clause be stretched 
to cover the case? He thought not. 

Monroe gave serious thought to the subject, con- 
sulted Madison and by and by marked out for himself 
a plan of procedure.' He let it be understood that he 
was heartily in favor of such improvements per se; 
yet he agreed with his predecessors as to the insuffi- 



^ Schouler, Hist., Vol. Ill, pp. 249-254; Monroe Mss.; Annals of Congress, 
1817-1822. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, I, 584. 
' Pint Annual Message. December 2. 1817. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 893 

cient powers of Congress. He accordingly urged Con- 
gress to consult the States with a view to the adoption 
of a suitable amendment. He said: "Disregarding early 
impressions, I have bestowed on the subject all the 
deliberation which its great importance and a just 
sense of my duty required, and the result is a settled 
conviction in my mind that Congress does not possess 
the right." 

Clay, for his part, made two speeches, in which he 
claimed that Congress had a perfect right to vote money 
for such improvements. Other western Congressmen 
thought as he did. With some of them it was a burning 
question. They regarded the broad gravel-covered 
turnpike, with its substantial bridges, as the first 
great transcontinental highway equal to the historic 
Uoman roads. So they felt they were justified, in the 
first session of the seventeenth Congress, m voting 
$9000 for repairing the road. The vote in the House, 
April 29, 1822, was eighty-seven to sixty-eight. The 
Senate passed the bill and it went to the President, 
who vetoedj it. On May 6, the House failed to pass it 
over the veto, sixty-eight to seventy-two. Schouler says 
that Monroe was proud of the veto, "confident of the 
ground he had chosen.** He "sent out copies of his 
veto message to the Judges of the Supreme Court, 
and to most of his political friends. He received in 
response many testimonials of approval from Wirt, 
Rush, Madison, Southard, and others. Madison ap- 
proved. . . . Story was non-conmiittal."^ Since then 
the subject has been a favorite one with statesmen and 
historians. 



^ Schouler Hist., Vol. HI, Monroe Mm.; Clay made two speeches on this 
subject. Buch&nan*8 speech is in Vol. I of his Works. See also the Life of Beverdy 
Johnson, by C. B. Stenier, p. 111. 



CHAPTER XV 

The Monroe Doctrine — Last Days 

On December 2, 1823, Monroe sent to Congress his 
seventh annual message. Embodied in it was what is 
now known the world over as the Monroe Doctrine. 

Monroe was then sixty-five years old. Many a day, 
both at home and abroad, had he gone to that school 
of experience which all of us agree is the best of schools. 
Ripe in statesmanship, his diplomatic practice in 
France, Spain and England, coupled with his varied 
labors at Washington, enabled him to see the necessity 
for what he was doing and to go about his international 
task in the right way. Lately he had been help>ed by 
his contests with Speaker Clay on questions connected 
with South American insurgency. Clay, grinding his 
own axe, had unwittingly sharpened Monroe's. More- 
over, Monroe was aided not a little — perhaps more 
than we shall ever know — by the able men with whom 
he had surrounded himself. Many historians attribute 
the Monroe Doctrine to the influence of John Quincy 
Adams. Elihu Root speaks of him as the major force 
in formulating it. In his diary, indeed, Adams indicates 
clearly some of the things done by him in connection 
with the work. Undoubtedly, his part in the per- 
formance was greatly to his credit. He was an honest 
man, a sound American and an experienced diplomat. 

As we go along we shall see that Adams's work shows 
as a distinct thread in the cloth, but we have the testi- 
mony of Calhoun that Monroe cut it and shaped it 
with his own hand. In the William and Mary Quarterly^ 
is an article telling of Judge Francis T. Brooke (born 
August 27, 1763; died March 3, 1851), a lieutenant in 
the Virginian line during the Revolution and a member 

1 Vol. XVII. p. 4. 

8M 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 895 

of the Supreme Court of Virginia, who left some 
reminiscences entitled: "Narrative of My Life for My 
Family." In the course of his narrative, he said: "I 
knew Mr. Monroe, practiced law with him, and I think, 
though a slow man, he possessed a strong mind and 
excellent judgment. When I was at York [Yorktown], 
in 1824, with General La Fayette, Mr. Calhoun, then 
Secretary of War, was there; and I asked him whether 
it was the President, Monroe, or his Cabinet, who were 
in favor of tiiat passage in his message which declared 
to the Holy Alliance that America would not be indiflFer- 
ent to any attempt to aid the Spanish Government to 

grevent the enfranchisement of the South American 
bwers, lien at war with Spain; and he replied that it 
was the President's own sentiment, and, though he was 
a slow man, yet give him time, and he was a man of 
the best judgment he had ever known. " 

Napoleon's fall was followed by a Bourbon restora- 
tion and other reactionary phenomena betokening a 
retiun to despotic government. The sovereigns who 
were thus happy to be rid of the terrible Bonaparte 
looked upon themselves not as despots but as privileged 
potentates, ruling by the grace of God. They declared 
that it was necessary to base the relations of the Powers 
on " the sublime truths of the holy religion of the Lord 
and Redeemer." Hence the name "Holy Alliance" 
given to a league said to have been suggested by 
Mme. de Krudener, wife of the Baron de Krudener, 
the Russian diplomat, to Alexander I, during that 
Emperor's residence in Paris. She was the daughter 
of Baron WeitinghoflF of Livonia; and was wont to 
entertain the Czar at her house, being a woman with 
intellectual as well as other charms. The document 
instituting the Holy Alliance was prepared by Alexander 
I, on September 86, 1815, and was signed by the 
Emperor Francis of Austria, King Frederick William 
III of Prussia and King Louis XVHI of France. The 
Pope was not asked to join the Holy Alliance. England 
refused to enter it; and with good reason, since it stood 



396 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

for the suppression of democracy. A Congress of the 
Allied Powers, held at Aix la Chapelle in 1818, took 
preliminary steps toward the repression of Uberalism. 
In 1820 a similar Congress at Troppau declared that 
the sovereigns of Russia, Austria and Prussia ''regarded 
as legally null all pretended reform operated by revolt 
and open hostiUty." Naples was disciplined; so was 
Spain, where, upon the restoration of the Bourbon 
dynasty, in the person of Ferdinand VII, constitutional 
government was made a mockery. A hundred thousand 
soldiers overran Spain as far as Cadiz. The Cortez 
passed out; the despots entered. 

Then came the turn of the South American countries. 
The American Revolution had been heard of there. 
A popular document was the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, translated into French and circulated at 
the capitals. The thrilling Uberty cries of the Frendi 
Revolution likewise found an echo in the great forests 
and savannahs of the southern continent. Therefore, 
when in Napoleon's time, a favorable opportunity 
came, the Spanish subjects in South America were in 
a mood to free themselves. Even some of the pro- 
Spanish people preferred home republics to govern- 
ments conducted by Napoleon's brother Joseph, in 
Madrid. Others gave allegiance to the juntas in Spain. 
The result was that the South Americans became prac- 
tically self-governing during the later Napoleonic 
period.^ Portuguese royalty, retiring before the French, 
fled from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro; and, in 1815, 
organized Brazil into a joint kingdom. In 1822, Pedro, 
Prince Regent, declared Brazil independent of Portugal ; 
and assumed the title of Emperor, which was trans- 
mitted to Dom Pedro, the famous "friend of the United 
States,'* who was lionized in this country during the 
Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia. Such in brief 
was the promising political condition of what are now 
the republics of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, 

^ The leading liberators in South America were: Francisco de Miranda (1752- 
181 6) ; the great Simon Bolivar (1783-1830) and Jose de San Martm (I778-I850). 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONR(» 897 

Peru and the great states in the region of the Rio de la 
Plata — inchoate Latin American republics, with the 
fires of liberty burning.^ 

It was the Holy Alliance that threatened to put out 
these fires» and to destroy something else at the same 
time. That something else was the trade established 
with the non-Spanish world. The Bourbon king wished 
to monopolize this trade as he had done of yore. Ferdi- 
nand was of the mind to have his dependencies back. 
His reason for delaying the ratification of the sale of 
Florida to the United States was based upon the fear 
that Monroe might recognize South American inde- 
pendence as soon as the other matter should be clinched. 
The American Minister to Spain was Hugh Nelson of 
Virginia, who had succeeded John Forsyth, a Georgia 
adherent of Monroe. But Forsyth had failed to reach 
Berlin ; Gallatin's successor, James Brown of Louisiana, 
had not as yet arrived at Paris; and the only capable 
American diplomat in that part of the world was 
Richard Rush. This worthy and zealous minister 
wrote many letters to Monroe, who profited greatly by 
the correspondence.^ 

George Canning, British Foreign Secretary in the 
Portland ministry, whose Orders in Council had done 
so much to worry us into war, was again in power and 
had made a volte face with respect to America. As we 
have noted, Lord Castlereagh had gone out of his 
head and made an end of himself. Canning assiduously 
cultivated Rush. "His old taunting tone was gone,** 
says Schouler. Rush sat near him at a diplomatic 
dinner-party, and Canning asked him to take a glass 
of wine. 



^ "The seoond period in the history of national development in Spanish America, 
extending approximately from 1852 to 1876, may be characterized as *the struflp^le 
for stability. . / Capital cities like Buenos Ayres, Montevideo and Lima, in which 
the European population enjoyed some influence, had a considerable share in the 
process.*' — Latin America, by W. R. Shepherd. In 1853 the Argentine Con- 
federation became the Argentine Republic. 

* Schouler, Hist., Vol. Hi; Monroe Mss.; Richard Rush's Reridenoe at the 
Court of London. Rush was subsequently Secretaiy of the Treasui^' in John 
Quinpy Adams's Ca)>inet. 



808 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

"Our Minister proposed as a toast, 'Success to 
neutrals/ 'Good!' said Canning, and drank it off. 
This led Rush to thank Canning for a speech he had 
lately made in the House of Commons, which con- 
tained some flattering reference to the neutral doc- 
trines of our government in 1793, *Yes!* replied 
Canning, *and I spoke sincerely*; and went on to say 
that he had lately read with the utmost interest the 
American State Papers of that epoch, and particidarly 
Jefferson's letters. *They are admirable,* he added, 
*they form as far as they go a complete neutral code/ 
These words and Canning's fervent manner of express- 
ing himself Rush felt the more, because the Russian 
Ambassador sat near them, and most probably over- 
heard the whole conversation. Soon afterwards our 
minister received a revised copy of this speech, which 
in a private note, full of personal compliment. Canning 
begged him to forward to President Monroe.**^ 

Canning watched the Holy Alliance and courted 
the friendship of the United States. By midsunmier, 
1823 he knew enough to conclude that the Powers 
meant to back the Bourbon of Spain in an attempt to 
regain and once more enfetter the South American 
countries. Canning's continental entanglements kept 
him from recognizing the republics, but he wished the 
United States to do so. In an interview with Rush, 
September 18, Canning brought matters to a head. 
He said he wanted an understanding with the United 
States in regard to South America. He proposed that 
the two countries should enter into a convention. 
Why not? Why not jointly oppose the Holy Alliance? 
Why should not the United States be represented in 
the proposed European Congress on South American 
colonial questions? Rush said: "My country has 

1 Schouler. Hist., Vol. Ill, pp. 28S-284; Rush to Monroe, April 24, 182S, Monroe 
Mss.; Rush to Monroe, July 13, 1823. Stratford Canning (Viscount Stratford 
de Redclifle), a cousin of George Canning, was Sir Charles Bagot's suooessor as 
minister at Washington. He remained twenty- two months. Adams called him 
"overbearing"; he spoke of Adams as * 'domineering." In Stratford Canning's 
life by S. Lane-Poole, 2 vols., vol. I, pp. 301-338, we find much about Monioe. 
Adams and social ways at Washington. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONRCS 899 

acknowledged the independence of these South Ameri- 
can Republics and wishes to see them received into the 
family of nations. . . . I must procure instructions from 
home before entering into any joint understanding, . • . 
Immediate recognition offers* however, the true basis 
of our concert.** He wanted Canning to recognize 
the republics. But Canning drew back. Rush wrote 
home. Again, on September 26, Canning saw Rush; but 
the second interview was substantially a repetition 
of the first. 

Monroe, upon receipt of Rush's secret despatch, 
replied : ** You could not have met Canning's proposals 
better if you had had the whole American Cabinet at 
your right hand. " 

Monroe lost no time in consulting Jefferson and 
Madison. What was back of Canning's eagerness? 
asked the cautious Madison. But Jefferson was less 
suspicious. Here is his reply: 

"The question presented by the letters you have 
sent me is the most momentous which has ever been 
offered to my contemplation since that of indepen- 
dence. That made us a nation; this sets our compass 
and points the course which we are to steer through the 
ocean of time opening on us. And never could we 
embark upon it under circumstances more auspicious. 
Our first and fimdamental maxim should be, never 
to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe; our second, 
never to suffer Europe to meddle with cis-Atlantic 
affairs. America, North and South, has a set of 
interests distinct from those of Eiurope, and peculiarly 
her own. She should therefore have a system of her 
own, separate and apart from that of Eiurope. ** 

With this endorsement of his own views, Monroe 
prepared the most remarkable document with which 
his name is associated. Of his advisers Schouler says: 
"Wirt was timorous, Calhoun open to conviction, 
Adams bold as a lion. But the President whose experi- 
ence in European diplomacy we should remember was 
greater than that of all his cabinet, felt confident of 



400 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

his ground. He had determined neither on the one 
hand to provoke the Alliance by a tone of taunting 
defiance, nor on the other to give this country the 
appearance of taking a position subordinate to Great 
Britain. . . . The President's Message of December, 
1823, toned down from the solemn exordium of the 
first draft, which Adams feared would alarm our people 
like a clap of thunder, put forward therefore, two dis- 
tinct declarations." The first was a protest against 
futiu^ colonization by any European power. The 
second was a protest against any extension of the system 
of the Holy Alliance to this hemisphere.^ 

The Czar's arm was as long as that of the Holy 
Alliance. One reached from Spain across the Atlantic 
to South America, or tried to; the other, thrust out 
four thousand miles across the Pacific, actually menaced 
us in the Alaskan quarter of North America. With 
the Oregon dispute in abeyance, we owned no land on 
the Pacific coast, but had important interests there. 
The first American ship to sail around the world, the 
"Columbia," touched at Nootka Sound in 1788, for a 
cargo of furs, which she took to Canton, sailing thence 
with a cargo of tea to Boston — a complete circum- 
navigation. ^ In 1798, the Russian American Company, 
trading in furs, was organized. The Russians wished 
to monopolize the region, and were about to exclude 
all American traders in 1806, when they realized through 
an incident at Sitka that our ships were necessary.' 
Only by the arrival of the American ship "Juno" were 
the Sitka settlers saved from starvation. After this 

» Schouler, History m. pp. 28»-294. Also "The Monroe Doctrine," Chapter VU. 
in Gilman's Monroe. Both Gihnan and Schouler disagree with the late Senator 
Sumner, in his ** Prophetic Voices," when he says that Canning originated the 
Monroe Doctrine. See Charles Sumner's "Prophetic Voices," pp. 157-160. 
Canning said Dec. 16, 1826: "Contemplating Spain, such as our ancestors 
had known her, I resolved that if France had Spain, it should not be Spain tcith 
the Indies. I called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the 
Old." He was Spain's friend in Europe; her enemy in America." See Canning, 
by W. Ali.son Phillips. 1903. 

* American Diplomacy, by Eugene Schuyler, 1886, pp. 292-S05, "The North 
Pacific." 

' Schuyler, Diplomacy, citing Robert Greenbow's History of Oregon and Cali- 
fornia. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 401 

striking proof the Russians ceased to threaten expul- 
sion, but they were none the less aggressive and 
domineering. They claimed the coast as far south as 
the Columbia river. John Quincy Adams, who had 
represented the United States in St. Petersburg and 
who was especially fitted to deal with Russo-American 
problems, was fortunately in the State Department 
just at the time when he was most needed there. 

Suddenly, on February 28, 1822, Adams was notified 
by M. Poletica, Russian Minister at Washington, that 
the Czar had issued an ukase in September, 1821, claim- 
ing the northwest coast of North America from 
Behring Strait to the fifty-first degree of north latitude. 
The Czar did not declare the North Pacific a closed sea, 
but warned all save Russians to keep one hundred 
Italian miles (three leagues) off shore. M. Poletica 
accompanied the ukase with a mass of matter in proof 
of Russian rights to overlordship. Adams knew better. 
He asserted American trading rights in the seas covered 
by the ukase, fixing the fifty-fifth parallel as the south- 
em limit of Russian influence. Baron de Tuyl soon 
displaced Poletica as Russian representative at Wash- 
ington; Minister Middleton was American representa- 
tive at the Czar's Court. Adams wrote to Middleton 
that no Russian territorial right "" could be admitted on 
this continent, as the Russians appear to have no settle- 
ment upon it except that in California.*' Middleton 
was to propose an arrangement with Russia whereby 
the whole coast would be open to navigation; or, if the 
Czar would not agree to that, Middleton was to arrange 
the matter so that the Russians would keep to the 
north of the fifty-fifth parallel. Adams went deeply 
into the whole subject. Finally he made up his mind. 
Speaking of an interview with Baron de Tuyl, he says: 

"I told him specially that we should contest the right of Russia 
to any territorial establishment on this continent; and that we 
should assume distinctly the principle that the American continents are 
no longer subjects for any new European Colonial establishments.**^ 

* Adams, Memoin, Vol. Vl p. 18S. 



4M THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Here we have a dear-cut statement as to the origin 
of the colonization clause in the Monroe doctrine.^ 

Adams won his point as to American rights in the 
North Pacific* for on April 17, 1824, a Russo-American 
convention was agreed to on his lines. Americans 
coidd thereafter sail the seas in the disputed region, 
and fish and trade with the natives at points unoccupied 
by Russian traders. As for the southern limit of Russian 
privilege, that was to be fixed at 54^ 40' north latitude. 

Important as was the convention thus arranged, the 
principle enunciated was of infinitely greater value 
because it read a new truth into the fundamental 
American pohcy with respect to alien Powers. Madison 
wrote to Monroe, August 5, 1824, congratidating him 
on the convention with Russia. It was well that 
America had become "the leading power in arresting** 
Russia's "expansive ambition." The English as well 
as American papers had a great deal to say about the 
convention, rejoicing at tie success of America in 
putting a curb on the autocrat. Having thus presented 
the raison d^Ure of the Monroe Doctrine, we now 
straightway append the paragraphs in the seventh 
annual message that embody and constitute it. 
Monroe wrote: 

^ "The occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a prin- 
ciple in which the rights and interests of the United States are 
involved, that the American continents, by the free and indey)en- 
dent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are hence- 
forth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization 
by any European powers. . . . In the wars of the European powers, 
in matters relating to themselves, we have never taken any part, 
nor does it comport with our policy to do so. It is only when our 
rights are invaded or seriously menaced, that we resent injuries 



* "It is interesting to regard Article VI of the [Franco- American] Treaty of 
Alliance as a sort of forerunner of that phase of the Monroe Doctrine which declares 
that *the American Continent is no longer subject to colonization. . . .* As we have 
seen, the alliance with France was soon discarded, but the motive bade of the 
act was not sympathy for England but a real vision of national destiny whidi would 
be foiled and frustrated were the nation to be drawn into the 'European Vortex*. . . . 
Hence, of course, the American policy of isolation, the first and main pillar of the 
Monroe Doctrine" — French Policy and the American Alliance, by E. S. Corwin. 
1916, pp. 201, 869. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 403 

or make preparation for our deSence. With the movements in this 
hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected and 
by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial 
observers. . . . We owe it therefore to candor and to the amicable 
relations existing between the United States and those powers 
to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to 
extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous 
to our peace aiid safety. With the existing colonies or dq)endenGie8 
of any European power we have not interfered and shall not inter- 
fere. But with the ^vemments who have declared their inde- 
pendence and maintamed it, and whose independence we have, on 
great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we 
could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing 
them or controlling in any manner their destiny, by any European 
power, in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly 
disposition toward the United States. In the war between those 
new governments and Spain we declared our neutrality at the 
time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered and shall 
continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur which, in the 
judgment of the competent authorities of this government, shall 
make a corresponding change on the part of Vie United States 
indispensable to their security. ... It is impossible that the allied 
powers should extend their political system to any portion of 
either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; 
nor can anyone believe that our southern brethren, if left to 
themselves, would adopt it of their own accord It is ecj^ually 
impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition, 
in any form, with indifference. " 

Elihu Root said in his address on *'The Real Monroe 
Doctrine '*^* 

'* As the particular occasions which called it forth have slipped 
back into history, the declaration itself has grown continually 
a more vital and insistent rule of conduct for each succeeding 
generation of Americans. Never for a moment have the respon- 
sible and instructed statesmen in charge of the foreign affairs 
of the United States failed to consider themselves bound to insist 
upon its polipy. Never once has the public opinion of the people 
of the United States failed to support every just application of it 
as new occasion has arisen. Almost every President and Secretary 
of State has restated the doctrine with vigor and emphasis in the 
discussion of the diplomatic affairs of his day. The governments of 
Europe have gradually come to realize that the existence of the 

' Presidential Address at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the American Society of 
Taternational Law, Washington, April 22, 1814. From addressei on International 
Law. Root by R. Bacon and J. B. Scott. 1916. 



404 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

policy which Monroe declared is a stubborn and continuing fact 
to be recognized in their controversies with American countries. 
We have seen Spain, France, England, Germany, with admirable 
good sense and good temper, explaining beforehand to the United 
States that th^ intended no permanent occupation of territoiy, 
in the controversy with Me3dco forty years after the declaration, 
and in the controversy with Venezuela eighty years after. In 
1903 the Duke of Devonshire declared *Great Britain accepts the 
Monroe Doctrine unreservedly.' Mr. Hay coupled the Monroe 
Doctrine and the Golden Rule as cardinal guides of American 
diplomacy. . . . No one ever pretended that Mr. Monroe was 
declaring a rule of international law or that the doctrine which he 
declared had become international law. It is a declaration of the 
United States that certain acts would be injurious to the peace 
and safety of the United States and that the United States would 
regard them as unfriendly. The declaration does not say what 
the course of the United States will be in case such acts are done. 
That is left to be determined in each particular instance. . . . The 
doctrine is not intematiomil law but it rests upon the right of 
self -protection and that right is recognized by international law. 
The right is a necessary corollary of independent sovereignty. . . . 
The international right upon which the declaration expressly 
rests is not sentiment or sympathy or a claim to dictate what kind 
of government any other country shall have, but the safety of 
the United States. . . . We frequently see statements that the 
doctrine has been changed or enlarged; that there is a new or 
different doctrine since Monroe's time. They are mistaken. 
There has been no change. One apparent extension of the state- 
ment of Monroe was made by President Polk in his messages 
of 1845 and 1848, when he included the acquisition of territory by 
a European Power through cession as dangerous to the safety of 
the United States. It was really but stating a corollary to the 
doctrine of 1823 and asserting the same right of self-protection 
against the other American States as well as against Europe. . . . 
The fundamental principle of international law is the principle 
of independent sovereignty. Upon that all other rules of inter- 
national law rest. . . . The Monroe Doctrine does not infringe 
upon that right; it asserts the right." 

During the Yucatan Bill debate, in 1848, Calhoun 
said that what should be done "must be determined 
and decided on the merits of the question itself.*' 
Buchanan said, in 1848, that "we should be compelled 
to resist the acquisition of Cuba by any powerful 
maritime State. " Clayton said in 1849 that the news 
of the cession of Cuba to any foreign power would be 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 405 

in the United States the instant signal for war, Seward 
said, when Napoleon DI sent troops to Mexico, in 1865, 
that the President wished France to be respectfully 
informed on two points: (1) the United States desired 
"to continue and cultivate sincere friendship with 
France ; (2) that this policy would be jeoparded unless 
France should desist in Mexico/* 
Cleveland said in 1895: 

** The doctrine upon which we stand^ is strong and sound because 
its enforcement is important to our peace and safety as a nation, 
and is essential to the integrity of our free institutions, and the 
tranq[uil maintenance of our distinctive form of government. It 
was mtended to apply to every stage of our national life and 
cannot become obsolete while our Republic endures. '* 

We are warned by Elihu Root that the Monroe 
Doctrine is by no means a be-all or do-all. It is dan- 
gerous to harbor a false conception of what it demands 
and what it justifies, of its scope and its limits. Since 
the Monroe Doctrine is a declaration based upon this 
nation's right of self-protection it cannot be trans- 
muted into a joint or common declaration by American 
States or any number of them. Let there be no gran- 
diose scheme in connection with it. He concludes: 

''The intolerance which demands that control over the conduct 
and opinions of other peoples, which is the essence of tyranny, 
invokes the Monroe Doctrine. Thoughtless people who see no 
differenoe between lawful right and physical power assume that 
the Monroe Doctrine is a warrant for interference in the internal 
affairs of all weaker nations in the New World. Against this 
supposititious doctrine, many protests both in the United States 
and South America have been made, and justly made. To the 
real Monroe Doctrine these protests have no application. " 

Many miss the point of the Monroe Doctrine. Con- 
ceited patriots on each continent of the western hemi- 

^ That of Don-interventioii of European powers in matters relating to tha 
American continent. The Olney doctrine of 1895 was thus expressed: "No Euro- 
pean Power has the ri^t to intervene forcibly in the affairs of the New Worid; 
that the United States, owing to its superior sise and power, is the natural protector 
and champion of all American nations; and that permanent poUtkal Union between 
a European and an American State is unnatural and inespeoient.'* 



406 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

sphere misconceive its purpose and misconstrue its 
meaning. Often it is because they themselves never 
have read the two simple clauses that constitute the 
Doctrine, but have accepted some erroneous hearsay 
interpretation originating in ignorance or perversity. 
In a vainglorious way, a North American may plume 
himself on his superior strength and virtue. Yes, he will 
look after those sister repubUcs. Let them fear not. 
He condescends, he patronizes, with every breath he 
makes an enemy. He has his counterpart in South 
America, where, as Root indicates, there is all too 
frequently a "misunderstanding of the attitude and 
purposes of the United States. *' Bryce reminds us that 
the regard of the early South American republicans 
for the United States and their "confidence in its 

Surposes never quite recovered the blow given by the 
lexican War of 1846 and^e annexation of California. " 
Moreover, Latin America is now strong. Apprehen- 
sions of aggression have vanished. Bryce repeats the 
words of one who said: "Since there are no longer 
rainclouds coming from the east, why should a friend, 
however well-intentioned, insist on holding an umbrella 
over us? We are quite able to do that for ourselves, 
if necessary." "Many a Chileno and Argentine, " says 
another South American traveler,*' " resents the idea of 
our Monroe Doctrine applying in any sense to his 
country and declares that we had better keep it at 
home. . . . Such republics as Mexico, Argentina and 
Brazil, Chile and Peru, no more need our Monroe 
Doctrine to keep them from being robbed of their 
territory by European nations than does Italy or 
Spain." Georges Clemenceau in "South America of 
Today, " 1911, notes that at the Pan-American Congress 
in Buenos Ayres, where he met "only jurisconsults, 
historians, men of letters or of science, " Henry White, 
representing the United States, needed all his gracious 
affability "to disarm the distrust aroused more espe- 

* Hiram Bingham. Across South America, 1911. See also The South Americans. 
by Albert Hale. pp. SOS-SOfi. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 407 

cially by the proposal to place Southern America under 
the banner of the Monroe Doctrine, ** Foolish indeed, 
are those friends of the Doctrine who misread it, or 
unwittingly drift away from its great central purpose. 
They should read Root, who says: "The Monroe 
Doctrine does not assert, or imply or involve any right 
on the part of the United States to impair or control 
the independent sovereignty of any American State." 
If Russia had fastened despotism upon what is now 
British Columbia, if imperial France had set an Austrian 
upon the throne of Mexico, if other autocratic aliens 
had seized the struggling Latin American countries 
and established kingdoms there, the United States 
would have been imperiled in every quarter. Wars or 
nunors of war would have been unceasing. Self- 
protection from such dire contingencies was at the 
bottom of the Monroe Doctrine in its inception. That 
is the fundamental idea now. However strong a nation, 
some sinister Power, or combination of Powers, may 
rise to overwhelm it. Hence the perpetual protective 
use of the Monroe Doctrine. 

What Louis Napoleon, who made bold to violate it, 
thought of the Monroe Doctrine is given us by the 
Earl of Malmesbury. This Emperor, having invited 
Malmesbury to dine at the Tuileries, March 20, 1852, 
talked to him about England and France: 

"He said he was anxious to go bras a bras with England 
on every question, not pour les beaux yeux of one another 
but for our solid interesrt; that two great subjects 
were now paramount — namely, the maintenance of 
the Turkish Empire and the new International Code 
broached by America called *the Monroe Doctrine'; 
and that these two points comprehended the whole 
policy of the world, the maintenance of peace, and the 
advance of human civilization and improvement. 
Russia was a barbarous Monarchy, and America a 
barbarous Republic, but both young, vigorous, el 
pleines de she.** 



408 THE JJFE OF JAMES MONROE 

The history of the Monroe Doctrine is so long as to 
force us to be content with a summary. 

In Continental times. Congress handled our relations 
with other countries by means of (1) the Committee of 
Secret Correspondence, (2) the Committee of Foreign 
Affairs, and (3) the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. 

Under the Constitution, the Secretary of State took 
up this work. Thus Jefferson, first Secretary of State, 
enunciated and established the fundamental doctrine 
of neutrality. This was the keynote of the Washington 
administration and to it all of Washington's utterances 
were attuned. 

One of Jefferson's biographers, John T. Morse, Jr., 
calls attention (p. 235) to a letter to Gouvemeur Morris 
in which Jefferson "faintly foreshadowed the Monroe 
Doctrine. " England had tiireatened to seize the North 
American possessions of Spain. Jefferson wrote: "We 
wish you tiierefore to intimate to them (British Min- 
istry) that we cannot be indifferent to enterprises of 
this kind. That we should contemplate an exchange 
of neighbors with extreme uneasiness. That a due 
balance on our borders is not less desirable to us than 
a balance of power in Europe has always appeared to 
them. " 

"When the war broke out between France and 
England,'' says John J. Conway, in "Footsteps of 
Famous Americans in Paris," Edmund Randolph, 
who had succeeded Jefferson, "drafted the Neustrelitz 
Proclamation, which said that the United States 
meant to hold aloof from European complications; 
subsequently this developed into the Monroe Doctrine." 

Not long after the Copenhagen outrage, the British 
had it in mind to send Wellesley with nine thousand 
men to South America. In "The Great Duke" (page 
165) W. H. Fitchett says: "A fleet of transports had 
assembled at Cork for the expedition. The force con- 
sisted of nine thousand men and Wellesley was to be 
in command. Had the expedition sailed Wellesley 
might, no doubt, have made his mark in South America 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 409 

as ineffaceably as he did in India» and today there 
might be a South American Canada under the British 
flag and no Monroe Doctrine." 

"The policy of non-intervention, which prevailed in 
the United States,'^ says John Bassett Moore, "was 
severely tested in the struggle of the Spanish colonies 
in America for independence; but under the guardian 
care of Monroe and John Quincy Adams, it was scrupu- 
lously adhered to." The Greek and Hungarian eflFort 
to shake off despotism found sympathizers in the United 
States; but Clay reminded Kossuth of America's 
"ancient policy of amity and non-intervention." 

We have seen under what circumstances the Monroe 
Doctrine itself was formulated and declared. "The 
Latin-American countries have ever since understood 
that in case of aggression upon them by European 
powers the United States would help them out, not 
because Monroe thought that a good policy, but 
because it is to the manifest interest of the United 
States. " So says Hart, adding that from 1823 to 1845 
there was little to do in foreign affairs. Then came the 
second great annexation period. England's American 
interests were debated. There was a threat that Texas 
might become a colony of England. Would California 
be transferred to a European power? Questions arose 
as to Mexico, Yucatan, Cuba. Canning's regard for the 
Monroe Doctrine did not prevent British bristles from 
showing long before the Venezuela episode. But "in 
all the debatable territory England gave way." In 
the matter of the Panama Canal, England, under the 
Clayton-Bulwer treaty, obtained recognition as an 
American power. We have mentioned the French 
incursion into Mexico. With regard to Cuba in 1873, 
President Grant made "the novel proposition of joint 
intervention with European powers." We cannot 
extend this summary to cover questions of colonization, 
the "Open Door" in Asiatic regions or the aftermath 
of the World War. Nor can we go further into the 
various views of it to be found in Mexican, Central 



€t 



410 THE LIFB OF JAMES MONBOE 

American and South American publications. The 
so-called Drago Doctrine of Dr. Drago» in 1903, 
Minister of Foreign Relations of the Argentine Repub- 
lic, had to do with the coercive collection of debts. 
The so-called Calvo Doctrine, which originated with 
Carlos Calvos, also of Buenos Ayres, insists that 
'^internal public law does not admit of intervention of 
any sort on the part of foreign peoples, whoever they 
may be/* Under this harsh laws against foreigners 
have been enacted.^ 

Let us conclude with the words of Dr. Lyon G. Tyler: 
The most living State paper outside the Constitution 
is the message of James Monroe announcing the Monroe 
Doctrine. " 

In the family letters of Mrs. Samuel Harrison Smith 
(Margaret Bayard)' we have many spirited little 
flashes that light up the drawing-rooms of Washington, 
and restore for us the social palpitations of Mrs. 
Monroe's day. Mrs. Smith's father was a Federalist; 
her husband a Republican; she herself was of the 
Jeffersonian stripe, and made a hero of Jefferson. 
Her novel: "A Winter in Washington, or Memoirs of 
the Seymour Family," published in 1824, deals with 
the period of which we tell. Writing to Mrs. Kirk- 
patrick, wife of Chief Justice Andrew Kirkpatrick, of 
New Jersey, she contrasts Mrs. Madison and Mrs. 
Monroe: 

"Mrs. Madison was extremely attentive and polite, but looked 
very ill. She had on a blue velvet, blue headdress and feathers 

^ The Calvo and Drago Doctrines are treated in "The Monroe Doctrine'* by 
T. B. Edington, 1904; and by H. W. Bowen. in The Independent, April 18, 1907. 
For Clay, Cass, Polk. Fillmore, Clayton-Bulwer, Buchanan, Lincoln, Grant, Cleve- 
land, McKinley . John Hay, Roosevelt and the Monroe Doctrine, see the Lives of those 
statesmen and Poole's Index and Reader's Guide. There are eighty references in 
Vol. Ill of this Guide. The Monroe Doctrine is treated in connection with Canada, 
Cuba, San Domingo and other countries. It is well considered in John Bigelow's 
Life of S. J. Tilden. There is no lack of scholarly studies of it by such specialists 
and historians as Moore and Hart in North America, as well as notable writers in 
the Southern Hemisphere. See also "A Century of the Monroe Doctrine," by 
John A. Stewart, Review of Reviews, Vol. LXIII., No. 376. 

* The First Forty Years of Washington Society, edited by Gaillard Hunt, 1906. 
Smith was a noted editor; later a successful banker. Mrs. Smith, daughter of 
Colonel John Bayard, was a story writer of some celebrity. 



p^kJt 


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HoCBE IN WHKTI MoVIW*E I>IKb 

No, 61 Pbinxx Stbeet, Xkw )''>«(K (jrr 



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THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 411 

with some old finery and her face looked like a flame. With 
Mrs. Monroe I am really in love. • • • She is charming and veiy 
beautiful. " 

Mrs. Dolly, it seems, used art to heighten her com- 
plexion. She was just going out; Mrs. Monroe, with 
her stately manners, was just coming in. It was 
bitterly cold that winter of 1817, yet the fine old beaux 
could not be kept away from the concerts and dances. 
Mrs. Smith tells us of lovely girls, with sparkling eyes, 
and their love affairs. One of the most interesting of 
the diplomaiiques was Jose Correa da Serra, Portuguese 
Minister, who first called Washington "the city of 
magnificent distances." Mrs. Smith writes November 
23, 1817: 

''People seem to think we shall have great changes in social 
intercourse and customs. Mr. and Mrs. Monroe's manners will 
give a tone to all the rest. Few persons are admitted to the mat 
house, and not a single lady has yet seen Mrs. Monroe, Mrs. 
(Richard) Cutts excepted. . . . She is always at home to Mrs. Cutts 
and Mr. Monroe has given orders to his Porter to admit Mr. Clay 
at all times, even when the Cabinet Council is sitting, and the 
other day, when he called and declined the servant's invitation 
into the Cabinet, Mr. M. came out and took him into the council. 
Altho' they have lived 7 years in W., both Mr. and Mrs. Monroe 
are perfect strangers not only to me but all the citizens. ''^ 



^ "President Monroe was a stately l^ginian. He was polished in manner and 
was alwavs au«fully dressed in a dark blue coat, buff vest, small clothes and top- 
boots. He wore a cocked hat of Revolutionary style and he has been called 'the 
last of the cocked hats,' for he was the last of the Presidents to adhere to the 
fashions of the past century. His face was mild and grave and although he was 
very courteous, ne was never familiar in his intercourse with men, and was given 
to a liking for the strict observance of official ceremony. He had been in public 
life from youth, and was highly esteemed for his true gentle nature, and it has been 
recorded of him that he was one of the purest of public servants that ever lived. * 

"His wife was a highly accomplished lady. She had a beautiful face, a tall 
graceful person and elecrant manners. She was familiar with fashionable life abroad 
and introduced into the White House manv English forms of etiquette. Her 
receptions were numerous and were attendea by the highest and most casdusive 
classes of the city. She held them in the East Room, whidi wm also used for State 
dinners, and full dress was always reqiured. 

"It was customary for Representatives to wear their hats in the house during 
the sessions, and it was not until 1828 that the practice was discontinued. Ladies 
were excluded from the galleries for a time but at last, after some discussion, they 
were admitted and even had seats reserved for them. As many Congressmen were 
inveterate snufftakers, urns filled with 'old scotch' were placed in each House and 
officials were charged with the duty of keeping them filled. Even to this day (188i) 



412 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

The White House itself in Monroe's time interested 
the public, on account of its new French furniture as 
well as because it had just been reconstructed. Let 
us glance at the life there. The Monroes had bought 
for their own use a great deal of French furniture, and 
this they transferred to the Government.* But the 
chairs, tables, lamps and the like of the Monroe house- 
hold would not go far; so, under Monroe's specific 
directions, a large order was sent to Russell and La 
Farge in Paris. In his message, February 12, 1818, 
Monroe said that every article chosen was selected 
with a view to its fitness for the President's house. 
The objects chosen were durable, in order that they 
might be "handed down through a long series of 
service." The bills were much heavier than had been 
counted upon; but so manifestly fit, substantial and 
artistic were all the objects purchased that not even 
the surliest watch-dog of the public purse had it in 
him to growl. Nevertheless, as Van Buren tells us in 
his "Autobiography," page 769, he was attacked on 
the stump years after by Colonel William C. Preston, 
Whig Senator from Virginia, because of the "gold 
spoons" of the Monroe period. 

The Monroes were on their guard with respect to 
the punctilious diplomats and their watchful wives. 
They remembered JeflFerson's troubles with the Merrys. 
"The Monroes," remarks Esther Singleton, "were 
people of . . . good breeding. They were used to Kings' 
Courts and the elegancies and luxuries of life." So 
was the Secretary of State; and to him Monroe turned 



in the Senate Chamber there is a large box containing choice snuff which is freely 
used by the 'most potent, grave and reverend' senators. 

"Previous to 1816 the compensation of members of Congress was six dollars 
per day, and when a bill was passed in that year to raise the pay to $1500 a session, 
a sum barely sufficient to defray the expenses of a decent living in Washington, it 
aroused great excitement throushout the country. In an ancient record it is stated 
that, 'the whole Nation, was shaken to its centre.' So great was the feeling that 




a crimson satin canopy brou^t by James Monroe from the Tuileries.** — Colonial 
Manors of Virginia, by Edith Tunis Sale, 1900. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 413 

for advice as to how the foreign ministers should be 
received. It was decided to ask them to the White 
House on the opening day a half-hour before other 
mortals. Mrs. Monroe was less fortunate in her resolve 
not to pay first visits. Mrs. Madison had done so; or, 
as Adams puts it, "had subjected herself to this tor- 
ture.'' "Mrs. Monroe," he adds, "neither pays nor 
returns any visits." Mrs. William Winston Seaton, 
the editor's wife, wrote, March, 1818: 

"It is said that the dinner parties of Mrs. Monroe wiU be very 
select. Mrs. Hay, the daughter of Mrs. Monroe, returns the 
visits paid to her mother, making assurances in the most pointedly 
polite manner, that Mrs. Monroe will be happy to see her friends, 
morning or evening; but that her health is totally inadequate to 
visiting at present. Mrs. Hay is understood to be her proxy; and 
there this much agitated and important question ends. '* 

But that it did not end so smoothly we have evidence 
enough, and to spare in Adams's diary. Adams seems 
to have been aggravated with the White House ladies, 
especially with Mrs. Hay, whose influence over her 
father was marked. The diarist declares that Mrs. Hay 
was "' one of the principal causes of raising this senseless 
war of etiquette- visiting. " Adams conveyed to Monroe 
Minister Hyde de Neuville's express wish that he and 
Mrs. Monroe should attend the de Neuville ball. 
Monroe demurred. Should they go to this one they 
might have to attend other balls. Upon invitation, 
Adams went to see Mrs. Monroe and Mrs. Hay; and 
the ball and etiquette questions were discussed. Adams 
hardly liked sudi matters. No wonder — ^he was a big 
and busy man. As for Mrs. Hay, she knew very well 
what she was about. She was trying hard to save her 
mother; and she did, in a measure save her, though 
the strain upon that lady was more than she should 
have been subjected to. 

The pet of the White House was little Hortensia 
Hay, namesake of her mother's schoolmate, Hortense 
de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland and mother of 
Napoleon III. Hortensia became Mrs. Hortensia 



414 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOB 

Rogers, and was for many years mistress of Druid Hill 
Mansion,^ Baltimore. 

The New Year reception in 1819 was a large affair. 
Adams says that the White House was ^'more crowded 
than I ever saw it on a similar occasion." Though 
''the President with his wife and two daughters enter- 
tained his friends and political supporters at many 
elegant dinners and hospitable 'drawing rooms,' the 
ladies of Washington society," according to Esther 
Singleton, turned their backs upon the Monroes.' 
Mrs. Seaton writes, December 18, 1819: "The drawing- 
room of the President was opened last night to a 
beggarly row of empty chairs. " The "etiquette-visiting 

^ This estate, now the beautiful Dniid Hill Park, had but two private owners: 
the first was Uoyd Buchanan, son of Dr. George Buchanan, one of the founders of 
Baltimore. Lloyd Buchanan in 1760 obtained grants of two tracts from the Colony 
of Maryland— "Hab a Nab at a Venture" and "The Level." These be called 
" Auchentorol^. " His daughter Eleanore ('* Good without Pretense, " her tombstone 
tells us), married her cousin Nicholas Rogers, aide-de-camp of General De Coudn^ 
and later aide to Baron de Kalb. La Fayette was his friend and a frequent guest 
at Druid Hill, inherited by Eleanore Buchanan Rogers. Her son and heur, Nicholas 
Lloyd Rogers, married, first Elisa Law, great-granddaughter of Mrs. George Wash- 
ington and, second, Hortensia Hay. Nicholas Lloyd Rogers left descendants by 
both wives. The late Mrs. George B. Goldsborough of Maryland was the last to call 
Druid Hill Mansion '*home. " Mrs. Goldsborough owned the Rembrandt P^e and 
Lambdin portraits of Monroe and other Monroe, Hay and Custis family heirlooms. 
Hortensia Hay wore over her wedding gown a lace overdress that was worn at her 
mother's wedding, and her grandmother's wedding. Hortensia's daughter wore it, 
too» and so did her granddaughter, Hortensia Hardesty, when she married Congress- 
man William Watson Mclntire. Thus Mrs. Monroe's lace has been worn by five 
brides. Hortensia Hay died before her husband, who sold Druid Hill to Baltimore 
for $500,000. ItwasopenedtothepublicOctober 19. 1860. When GeneralJ. E. B. 
Stuart raided Baltimore, in 1863, General R. £. Schenck in conunand ordered the 
noble trees cut down at Druid Hill, thus facilitating defence. Col. John M. Wilson 
begged to put a negro wood-chopper at the foot of each tree, ready to cut on definite 
alarm news. The trees were saved. The present writer is indebted to Mrs. Elizabeth 
K. Hardesty Richardson, descendant of President Monroe, for these facts. 

' "Mrs. Monroe made up her mind to retrench some of those profuse civilities with 
which her predecessor had fatigued herself. Mrs. Madison had retired from office 
equally regretted by the poor of Washington and by its high life; but she had gained 
this popularity at severe cost. She had called on all conspicuous strangers; Mrs. 
Monroe intended to call on nobody. Mrs. Madison had been always ready for 
visitors when at home; her successor proposed to receive nobody save at her regular 
levees. The Ex-Presidentess had presided at her husband's dinner parties; and 
invited the wives of all the men who were to be guests; Mrs. Monroe staid away 
from the dinner parties; and so the wives were left at home. Add to this that her 
health was by no means strong, and it is plain that there was great ground for a 
spasm of unpopularity. She, however, outlived it, and re-established her social 
relations, gave fortnightly receptions, and won much admiration which she prob- 
ably deserved." — Thomas Wentworth Higginson, in Harper's Magazine* VoL 
LXVni. p. 940. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 415 

affair " was considered at a cabinet meeting, December 
29; and so it went. Under date of November 21, 1820, 
Adams wrote: "I dined at the President's with a 
company of about thirty-five persons, members of 
Congress principally, all men, the state of Mrs. 
Monroe's health not admitting of her attendance at 
numerous dinner parties." But Mrs. Monroe and 
other ladies were present at a White House dinner 
described by James Fenimore Cooper. The oldest 
Senator present led Mrs. Monroe to the table. The 
President took a lady and followed: 

''The table was large and rather handsome. The service was 
china, as is uniformly the case, plate being exceedingly rare 
if used at all. There was, however, a rich plateau, and a great 
abundance of the smaller articles of table-plate. The cloth, 
napkins, etc., etc., were fine and beautiful. The dinner was 
served in the French style a little Americanized. The dishes were 
handed around, though some of the guests, appearing to prefer 
their own customs, coolly helped themselves to what they found 
at hand. Of attendants there were a good many. Mrs. Monroe 
arose at the end of the dessert, and withdrew, attended by two or 
three of the more gallant of the company. No sooner was his wife's 
back turned than the President reseated himself, inviting 
his guests to imitate the action. After allowing his guests suffi- 
cient time to renew, in a few glasses, the recollections of similar 
enjoyments of their own, he arose himself, giving the hint to his 
company that it was time to rejoin the ladies. In the drawing room, 
coflFee was served, and every one left the house before nine. '* 

Samuel F. B. Morse wrote to his mother, Washington, 
December 17, 1819.1 

"I have been here nearly a fortnight. I commenced the Presi- 
dent's portrait on Monday and shall finish it to-morrow. I have 
succeeded to my satisfaction, and, what is better, to the satisfac- 
tion of himself and family; so much so that one of his daughters 
wishes me to copy the head for her. They all say that mine is 
the best that has been taken of him. The daughter told me (she 
said as a secret) that her father was delighted with it and said 
it was the only one that in his opinion looked like him; and this, 
too, with Stuart's in the room. The President has been very kind 
and hospitable to me; I have dined with him three times and 
taken tea as often; he and his family have been very sociable and 

^ "Samuel F. B. Morse.** His Letters and Journals edited by his son, Edward 
Und Morse, 1914; 2 vols. Vol. I, pp. 226, 227. 



416 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

unreserved. I have painted him at his house, next room to his 
cabinet, so that when he had a moment to spare he could come 
in to me. Wednesday evening, Mrs. Monroe held a drawing-room. 
I attended and made my bow. She was splendidly and tastily 
dressed. The drawing-room and suite of rooms at the President's 
are furnished and decorated in the most splendid manner; some 
think too much so, but I do not. "^ 

On Thursday evening, March 9, 1820, there was a 
wedding in the White House. The ceremony was in 
the East Room.* The bride was Maria Hester Monroe, 
the President's younger daughter, who married her 
cousin, Samuel Lawrence Gouverneur. Mrs. Marian 
Gouvemeur tells us:' "Only the relatives and personal 
friends attended; even the members of the Cabinet 
were not invited. The gallant General Thomas S. 
Jesup, one of the heroes of the War of 1812 and Sub- 
sistence Comiiissary General of the Army, acted as 
groomsman to Mr. Gouvemeur. . . . After this quiet 
wedding, Mr. and Mrs. Gouverneur left Washington 
upon a bridal tour and about a week later returned to 
the White House, where at a reception, Mrs. Monroe 
gave up her place as hostess to mingle with her guests, 
while Mrs. Gouverneur received in her place. Commo- 
dore and Mrs. Stephen Decatur, who lived on La 
Fayette Square, gave the bride her first ball, and two 
mornings later, on the twenty-second of March, 1820, 
Decatur fought his fatal duel with Comimodore James 
Barron, and was brought home a corpse. " The death 
of Decatur gave the Monroes a profound shock. Invi- 
tations already out for an entertainment at Commo- 
dore David Porter's in honor of the bride and groom 
were recalled.* Not for a long while did Washington 
recover. 



^ The portrait thus painted was ordered by the Common Council of Charleston, 
S. C. It still hangs in the City Hall there. 

* The officiating clergyman was the Rev. Dr. William Hawley, rector of old 
St. John's. lie wore knee breeches and shoe buckles. During the War of 1812, he 
commanded a company of divinity students in New York. Because he would not 
march against the enemy when ordered, Decatur refused to attend St. John's. 

« In " As I Remember. '* pp. 256-258. 

* Mrs. Marian Gouverneur says in "As I Remember." p. 259: "I never bad 
the pleasure of knowing my mother-in-law. Mrs. Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur, 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 417 

Samuel L. Gouvemeur, Sr., was Monroe's private 
secretary. He entered the New York Legislature in 
1825. From 1828 to 1836, he was Postmaster at New 
York. He was very much a man of the world — fond 
of race horses, owner of the celebrated "Post Boy." 
"Mr. Gouvemeur," writes his daughter-in-law, "was 
a man of decidedly social tastes and at one period of 
his life owned and occupied the De Menou buildings on 
H. Street in Washington, where during the life of his 
first wife he gave some brilliant entertainments." 
According to Rear-Admiral John J. Almy, "sixteen 
baskets of champagne were frequently consumed by 
the guests during a single evening. " The second wife 
of Samuel L. Gouvemeur, Sr., was Mary Diggs Lee, 
of Needham, Frederick County, Maryland, grand- 
daughter of Thomas Sim Lee, second Governor of 
that State. Eliah Kingman, the Washington newspaper 
man, said of S. L. Gouvemeur, Sr., "he even possessed a 
seductive voice." 

Mrs. Marian Gouvemeur says in "As I Remember," 
page 177, that when William L. Marcy was taking 
leave of ihe clerks in the War Department, "he shook 
hands with an elderly colored employee named Datcher, 
who had formerly been a body servant to President 



as she died some yean before my marriage, but I learned to revere her through her 
son, whose tender rewd for her was one of the absorbing affections of his life and 
changed the whole direction of his career. At an early age he was appointed a 
Lieutenant in the regular Army and served with distinction through the Mexican 
War in the Fourth Artillery. On one occasion subsequent to that conflict, while his 
mother was suffering from a protracted illness he applied to the War Department 
for leave of absence in order that he might visit her sick bed; and when it was not 
granted he resigned his commission and thus sacrificed an enviable position to his 
sense of filial duty.'* The father of Mrs. Samuel L. Gouverneur, Jr., was Jud^e James 
CampbeU of New York, whose elder daughter married United States Idinister 
Charles Eames. Until her death in 1890, Bfis. Eames was one of the most noted of 
Washington's hostessess. For many years Mr and Mrs. Samuel L. Gouvemeur, Jr., 
bore an especially distinguished part in society — at New York and Newport, as 
well as Washington. They lived awhile in China, where S. L. Gouvemeur, Jr., was 
U. S. Consul at Foo Chow. Upon their return, Gouvemeur edited for publication 
"The People the Sovereigns," a posthumous work by James Monroe. They lived 
at Ffttlenck, Md., quite a while; then in Washington, where they entertained. 
Mrs. Gouvemeur's book of reminiscences touches upon some hundreds of celebrities 
— not the least interesting one being her friend "Tun. " or Mrs. Smtima Randolph 
Meikleham, a seventh daughter, the last surviving grandchild of Thomas Jefferson. 
Thus the Jefferaon-Monroe friendship was kept up through several generations. 



418 THE LIF£ OF JAMES MONROE 

Monroe and said: *Good-bye, Datcher; if I had had 
your manners, I should have left more friends behind 
me/' Mrs. Gouvemeur had passed down to her 
" Uncle James, *' a venerable colored man who had long 
served her husband's family. Marcy*s brother-in-law, 
George Newell, once asked her: "Who is that manP' 
"An old family servant." "Well, he is the most polite 
man I ever saw." 

Attorney-General Wirt was quite a favorite with 
the Monroes. It was about the time of the publication 
of Wirt's " Patrick Henry. " Wirt was a most important 
person; and, what is more, a learned, witty and genial 
one — a good friend and hail-fellow well met. He and 
his family are well described in a Saratoga letter^ 
written by Mrs. Anne Jean Lyman, wife of Judge 
Joseph Lyman, of Northampton, Mass.: 

"The great Mr. Wirt, with an interesting family was there 
from Washington, which was a source of much enjoyment to me. 
Mrs. Wirt was not a lady of great mental attainments; but of 
much delicacy and refinement and good judgment, and of many 
showy accomplishments. Although the mother of twelve children, 
she looked young and handsome, and played elegantly on the 
piano; and played battledore with the agility of fifteen, for 
hours together. Her eldest daughter, who was with hor, resembled 
her in character, except that she had more reserve. I should 
hardly dare to attempt a description of him, except in the most 
general terms. His appearance is magnificent in an unusual 
degree, and everything he does exhibits a moral grandeur, in 
perfect conformity to that appearance. There is something so 
imposing in this look, that you feel it a condescension, if he pays 
you any attention. At Ballstown we had the satisfaction of look- 
ing at Joseph Bonaparte, who calls himself Count Servillier; his 
appearance is that of a John Bull much more than that of a 
Frenchman — very fat, and easy with a most benevolent expres- 
sion of face; his suite requires twelve rooms. ** 

Wirt, writing to his daughter Laura, May 23, 1820^ 
describes a visit to Squire Thomas Law "at Silver 
Hills, "" Anacostia Heights. Squire Law, "a grave sweet 



*To Birs. William Greene, August 4, 1821. Recollections of My Mother, by 
Snsan I. Lesley, 1886, pp 139, 140. 
* Greanleaf and Law, by Allen C. Clark, p. 299; also Kennedy's "Wirt". 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 419 

old man" was "Washington's first rich man." He 
lived on the Maryland table-land, two miles across the 
eastern branch of the Potomac. He was entertaining 
Monroe, his heads of departments and others. Wirt 
exclaims: 



''Such a splash as we had at Mr. Law's yesterday! Near a 
hundred gentlemen; all the fanners of Prince George's County for 
many miles around, and all the gentry from Washington. And no 
more ceremony and quite as much festivity and playfulness as 
among a flock of children just broke loose from school. . . . Such 
a rattling of carriages and clattering of horses' hoofs! But, first, 
such a mnner! But, before that, such fine punch down at the 
spring, beyond the pavilion, on the hill, in the woods. Graff had 
a Dutch parody on 'Jessie of Dumblane' which is admirable. 
The President latched till he cried; and I believe he would have 
danced if the fiddle had struck up. The good man sat at the table, 
beating time with his fork to the songs sung by Graff and others, 
with aU the kindness and amiability of his nature. . . . Mr. Law 
delivered a great speech. It was a meeting of the Agricultural 
Society, but the speech was over before I got there. On asking 
Mr. Adams (John Quincy Adams) for an account of it, he said: 
'It was a love song about murder; in other words an agricultural 
speech about manufactures.' Quite in his style. . . . At this dinner 
there was 'ease and no ceremony;* the hundred guests ate lamb, 
ham, chicken and blackberry pie; and drank claret, brandy and 
fifteen-year old whiskey. ** 

George Ticknor, January 16, 1825, wrote to William 
H. Prescott:^ 

"The first time we were in Washington we passed a little less 
than a fortnight; the last time between three and four weeks. It 
is altogether a very curious residence; very different from any- 
thing I have seen in any part of the World. The regular inhabitants 
of the city from the President downwards lead a hard and trouble- 
some life. It is their business to entertain strangers, and they do 
it, each one according to his means, but all in a very laborious 
way. . . . The President gives a dinner, once a week, to thirty or 
forty people — no ladies present — in a vast, cold hall. He 
invited me to one, but I did not go. I was, however, at a very 
pleasant dinner of only a dozen that he gave to La Fayette, when 
the old gentleman made himself very agreeable; but this was 
quite out of the common course. . . . Mr. Adams gives a great 
dinner once a week, and Mrs. Adams a great ball once a fortmght; 

1 life of George Ticknor, 1877, 8 vcIb, Vol. I. S49. 



420 THE LIFE OP JAMES MONROE 

it keeps her ill half the time, but she is a woman of sreat spirit, 
and carries it through with a high hand. . . . Calhoun s, however, 
was the pleasantest of the ministerial dinners, because he invited 
ladies, and is the most agreeable person in conversation at Wash- 
ington; — I mean of the Cabinet — and Mrs. Calhoun is a very 
gK>d little woman, who sometimes gives a pleasant ball. The 
ussian Minister is a strange retired fanatic, in feeble health, who 
^ves splendid dinners once a week. Addington, the British charg6t 
IS a very acute, well-informed man of letters, who gives very 
agreeable little dinners en garcon^ twice a week. The Baron de 
Mareuil is a truly elegant gentleman. . . . The truth is that, at 
Washington, society is the business of life. . . . Every morning 
we went to return visits. • • • then to the House or Senate if there 
were any debate.*' 

Monroe's message to the House, January 30, 1824, 
must have made strange reading for Jefferson. It 
advocated a peace establishment for the Navy. "The 
Navy," wrote Monroe, "is the arm from which our 
Government will always derive most aid and support 
of our neutral rights. Every power engaged in war will 
know the strength of our naval force, the number of oin* 
ships of each class, their condition and the promptitude 
with which we may bring them into service, and will 
pay due consideration to that argument." He added: 
"The great object in the event of war is to stop the 
enemy at the coast. If this is done our cities and whole 
interior will be secure." He instanced the mouth of 
the Chesapeake, near which stands Fortress Monroe, 
named in his honor. ^ 

On May 21, Monroe sent to the Senate a slave trade 
convention, March 13, with Great Britain. Its idea 
was to make that nefarious calling piratical. Adams, 
in his Diary,^ tells how deeply interested Monroe was 
in this treaty, which, however, failed of ratification. 

That summer was a busy one with the President. 
He had "scarcely a moment" for his friends. In his 
letters to Jefferson and Madison, he apologizes for his 
inability to pay them as much attention as he would 

^ For this message, see Messages and Documents and Writings of Monroe, Vol. 
Vn. pp. 3-11. 
* Adams' Memoirs, Vol. VI, p. 344, et nq. 



THE UFE OF JAMES MONROB 421 

like. Late in July he went to Loudon, but was obliged 
to return to the Capitol to greet a party of Indians who 
had come from the Far West to see the Great Father. 
There were twenty chiefs. In writing to Madison, 
explaining why he could not present himself at Mont- 
pelier, he thus refers to Mrs. Monroe: 

''Her health is much impaired by many causes, particularly by 
our long service and the heav^ burdens and cares to which she 
has been subjected, and to which the strength of her constitution 
has not been equal. "^ 

In the fall he wrote to Jefferson:* "I shall be heartily 
rejoiced when the term of my service expires, and I 
may return home in peace with my family, on whom, 
and especially on Mrs. Monroe, the burdens and cares 
of my long public service have borne too heavily." 
His references to his wife from this time on, indicate 
increasing soUcitude in regard to that faithful and 
worthy mate for whom he had the tenderest affection. 

In an Oak Hill letter to William Wirt, September 27, 
1824, Monroe pronounced the affair known as "the 
A. B. Plet,*' "one of the most painful of my life. " He 
was exceedingly anxious to preserve the honor and tone 
of his administration; hence this "A. B." scandal 
made him wince. In reality, it amounted to little. 
Some letter, signed "A. B.*' appeared in a Washington 
newspaper, accusing Secretary Crawford of malfeasance 
in office. Who was the writer? Monroe had appointed 
United States Senator Ninian Edwards, of Illinois, 
to be Minister to Mexico; and, having been confirmed, 
Edwards started for his post. But, on the way, he 
wrote to the Speaker of the House, avowing himself 
to be the author of the attack upon Crawford. The 
Sergeant-at-Arms, who was at once sent after him, 
overtook and brought him back to Washington, where 
he vainly attempted to prove the truth of what he had 
said. He resigned the Mexican mission and the affair 
was closed. 

^ Monroe to Madiaon, August ft, 1824. 
* Monroe to Jeffenon, October 81» 1824. 



422 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

Some matters of moment of that autumn and winter 
were the signing of the Columbian Treaty, October S, 
1824; the proclamation of the Russian Treaty, January 
12, 1825, and the signing of the Indian Spring Treaty S 
February 12. On Mardi 8, the day before his retire- 
ment from the Presidency, Monroe approved of the 
act incorporating the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal 
Company. 

Monroe adopted the example set by Washington and 
followed by Jefferson and Madison with respect to the 
two-term tenure. No third term for any one became 
the rule; or, as Buchanan expressed it, ^'this principle 
is now become as sacred as if it were written in the 
Constitution." A recurring question, therefore, was: 
Who should succeed Monroe? He would be a Repub- 
lican. That was taken for granted. But would he 
represent the new nationalizing tendency, or would he 
be some strict constructionist of the older type? Here 
was Jefferson scolding about the tariff. He wrote to 
William Branch Giles: **The younger recruits, having 
nothing in them of the feelings or principles of '76, now 
look to a single and splendid government of an aris- 
tocracy, founded on banking institutions and moneyed 
corporations. " ^ Madison, too, had doubts about the 
wisdom of a tariff that built up manufactures at the 
expense of agriculture. But he saw nothing in the 
Constitution against the tariff act of May 22, 1824.' 
Then there was the question of internal improvements. 
Monroe's veto had been less popular in the western 
counties of his own State than was agreeable to him.* 
Monroe was personally embarrassed by the number of 
presidential aspirants in his Cabinet. Crawford was 

* This treaty provided for the cession by the Creeks of their Georgia land and 
several million acres in Alabama. The consideration was $400,000. Monroe's 
Message on the removal of the Georgia Indians api>ears in Messages and Docu- 
ments, and Writings of Monroe, Vol. VII, pp. 14-17. He thought it would be better 
for tliem as well as for the whites if they should migrate to the West. Nevertheless 
it was a sad thing — the bodily transfer of the Cherokee nation from under their 
own blue sky to the Indian Territory. 

« Jefferson's Writings (Ford), Vol. X. p. 365. 
» Madison's W-ritings, Vol. Ill, op. 483, 507. 

* Sectionalism in Virginia, by Charles Henry Ambler, 1009, p. 122. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 428 

plotting for the presidency; and had been, right along. 
He it was who put through the four-year tenure act. 
Under this act the collecting and disbursing oflScers of 
the Government were to serve for four years. Crawford 
hoped to use the act to further his candidacy. Other 
political devices had come into use: the gerrymander, 
and the system of proscription whereby administrative 
officers disagreeing with the factionid poUcy of the 
State leaders were removed.^ Crawford was an 
intriguer. He worried Monroe a great deal. Maria 
Monroe was one day in her father's office during his 
presidency, when William H. Crawford came in, urging 
something on Mr. Monroe which he wanted time to 
consider. Crawford insisted with vehemence on its 
being done at once; saying at length: "I will not leave 
this room till my request is granted." "You will not?" 
exclaimed the President, starting up and seizing the 
poker. "You will now leave the room or you mH be 
thrust out." Crawford was not long in making his 
exit.* Monroe, usually so mild, so equable, could not 
always control his much-harrassed nerves. He even 
flared up against John Quincy Adams when they were 
talking of the case of Jonathan Russell. Adams had 
spoken of "my report" in the matter. " Your report?" 
said the President in a sharp tone of anger, "'tis my 
report. It is no report at all until I have accepted it. "• 
Adams had back of him an excellent record of states- 
manship and the support of New England manufac- 
turers. Moreover, that section was entitled to the 
presidency. He was nominated by the New England 
Legislatures. Clay, also a tariflF man, was the recognized 
champion of internal improvements, and had a popular 
following in Kentucky and the West. The Legislative 
of his own State nominated him for the Presidency 
and other Legislatures endorsed his candidacy. Craw- 
ford, nominee of the regular caucus, was identified with 



> Hart, Formation of the Union, pp. 84d, 277. 

« Court Circles of the Republic, by Mrs. E. F. EUct, 1869; p. 167. 

* Diary of John Quincy Adama, Vol. V, p. 508. 



424 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

the older order of things. And there was still another — 
a hero to be shouted over till finally shouted into the 
White House in 1828, in which year, "the pacific 
Monroe and the respectable second Adams made way 
for the violent Jackson. "* 

But though nominated by the Tennessee Legislature 
in 1822, and the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1824, the 
man whom Benton called " the candidate of the people 
brought forward by the masses"* was to lose the prize 
in his first contest. He had ninety-nine electoral votes; 
Adams, eighty-four; Crawford, forty-one; and Clay, 
thirty-seven. Clay^s men went to Adams, by Clay's 
own expressed wish, January 8, 1825; and Adams 
became President-elect. Some of the Clay Congressmen 
who thus voted lost their seats at the next election. 
When Clay entered the Adams cabinet as Secretary 
of State, John Randolph cried out that it was "a 
coalition of Blifil and Black G^eorge — a combination 
unheard of tiU now of the Puritan and the black-leg"; 
but no proof exists of a corrupt bargain between 
Adams and Clay. As for Calhoun, he was of recognized 
presidential calibre; but, when he saw that there would 
be no chance for him, he quietly accepted the vice- 
presidential nomination and was unanimously elected. 

The great event of the summer of 1824 was La 
Fayette's arrival on his farewell visit to the land he had 
helped to free. Monroe sent him an invitation, Febru- 
ary 4; and urged him to come in an American frigate, 
but La Fayette preferred to make the voyage in a 
merchantman — the "Cadmus," which landed him at 
Vice-President Tompkins's house, Staten Island, August 
15. La Fayette's fortune had been shattered, so that 
he was obliged to borrow money to come over. Jefferson 
and Monroe, who were both in financial straits, under- 
stood the predicament of the nation's guest. Jefferson 
wrote to Monroe, February 5, expressing the hope that 
Congress would do the handsome thing by La Fayette; 

* Life of William Lloyd Garrison, by Lindsay Swift, 1911. 

* "Really,** corrects Hart (Formation, p. 250) "by his neighbor Major Lewis." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 425 

and it did, voting him lands and money — a township 
and $200,000. As for the old hero, who was accom- 
panied by his son Greorge Washington La Fayette, 
M. Levasseur and Bastien, the General's valet, he had 
no idea when he landed of the extraordinary heartiness, 
joy and glory awaiting him.^ He asked some one on the 
"Cadmus" if he could perhaps find a hack at the wharf 
in New York to take him to his hotel. He was seized 
upon and lionized from the moment he set foot ashore. 
At New York, in New England, in the Middle States, 
in the South, in the West — wherever he went — he 
was saluted, fSted, embraced and shouted over to his 
heart's content. He was the guest of the nation for 
fourteen months. Not tlie least of his satisfactions was 
found m his reunions with his comrades of the Revolu- 
tion, of whom Monroe, at the White House, was one. 
Monroe himself was overjoyed at the heartiness of the 
nation's welcome, auguring well, he thought, for the 
continuity of that regard which Americans felt for the 
foimders of the Union. 

When La Fayette reached Washington the air was 
surcharged with politics. Apropos, here is a paragraph 
from Schouler: 

**La Fayette's presence at Washington had its influence in 
preventing all indecorous (political) scenes from first to last. 
Jackson bore his defeat, to all outward appearances, with admirable 
grace and composure, having during the whole canvass carried 
himself with more of the presidential manner than any other 
candidate. At Monroe's (Irawing-room on the evening which 
followed the ballot, he came up to the President-elect, a lady on 
his arm, and shook hands with him very cordially, his countenance 
altogether placid and friendly. But at heart he was deeply angered; 
he could now believe that all Monroe's Cabinet excepting Csilhoun 
had worked constantly to defeat him at all hazards; and in private 
letters he denounced Clay as the 'Judas of the West' who had 
closed the contract for thirty pieces of silver. "* 



1 Chapter X in the writer's "True La Fkyette," 1910. is devoted to General 
La Fayette's tour of the United SUtes in 1824-1825. 

* Schouler's Hist., Vol. HI, p. 829; Jackson's letter to Lewii^ February 14, 1825. 
Parton's Jackson. 



426 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

As he neared the close of his last term, Monroe 
became anxious for an investigation of his accounts; 
and a month after he had sent in his Eighth Annual 
Message, he addressed Congress on the subject. "It is 
my wish," he said, "that all matters of accoimt and 
claim between my country and myself be settled with 
that strict regard to justice which is observed in settle- 
ments between individuals in private life." According 
to Thurlow Weed,^ there were good and suflBcient 
reasons for Monroe's much-talked of Era of Good Feeling. 
He says: " During the administrations of James Monroe 
and John Quincy Adams, the welfare of our people and 
the strength of our government were promoted and 
augmented by an enlightened national policy. All our 
interests moved forward harmoniously. All the indus- 
tries of the country thrived, farmers, mechanics, manu- 
facturers, merchants, importers and capitalists foimd 
themselves working together with reciprocal interests 
and to mutual advantage. While all our domestic occu- 
pations proved abundantly remunerative, our canvas — 
the canvas of our own well-laden ships — whitened 
every ocean and sea. And amid all this individual 
prosperity and happiness, the nation was advancing by 
rapid strides to wealth and power. " 

"When Monroe retired from the presidency on 
March 4, 1825," says Hart,* '* the internal authority of 
the national government had for ten years steadily 
increased, and the dignity and influence of the nation 
abroad showed that it had become one of the world's 
greatest powers. " 

Adams in Monroe's Cabinet and Adams in the 
presidency were noticeably different. "He praised in 
courteous terms his predecessor and his predecessor's 
policy and yet," says Schouler, "old Republicans saw 
this proselyte to their faith pushing principles beyond 
Monroe's experimental standard. " He had no consti- 
tutional scruples as to internal improvements. On the 

* Autobiography, Vol. II, p. 115. 

' Hart, Formation of the Union, p. 244. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 427 

contrary, he thought the thing to do was to go ahead 
and spend money for roads and canals ; and was willing 
that the government should build " a light-house of the 
skies," otherwise a national observatory. He wanted a 
national university, too. In a word, he was progressive; 
and not afraid to spend the people's money. A new 
Cumberland road bill was passed in 1827; and this 
time it was not vetoed. But with Clay in his Cabinet, 
Adams could not hope for i)olitical peace. And, in 
course of time, it became clear that like his father, he 
would be a one-term president. The Crawford men 
went to Jackson, who was the rising star. 

Calhoun for his part was a changed man. He was 
breaking away from his nationalistic moorings, and 
was solidifying into a less liberal, less happy character, 
more Southern, more sectional, as if set apart to take 
on a Roman robe in a civic tragedy of blood and woe. 

Calhoun was as fond of Monroe as Monroe was of 
him. They continued to correspond; but Monroe 
could no longer see as Calhoun saw. " Monroe in a kind 
and fatherly way, opposed Calhoun's theories,'*^ says 
Schouler. . . . "We should provoke no issue to shake 
the system. . . . A singular change truly was Calhoim's 
mind now undergoing, his new-bom infatuation for 
Southern rights imder the spur of an ambition still 
wavering in its upward endeavor to the chair which 
Washington and Monroe had occupied.'** 

Monroe did not belong to the school of disunionists 
then just developing. He was a true Union man; and 
must have been shocked and saddened when, in his 
retirement at Oak Hill, he bethought him of the likeli- 
hood of a great quarrel between North and South. 

Though Monroe weakened physically, he seemed to 
grow stronger in his wish to see the country served with 

^ A summary of John C. Calhoun's correspondence appears in the Author's 
Final Note, by Schouler, Vol. Ill, pp. 547-549. The letters, lost during the Civil 
War, were recovered by J. F. Jameson and published in the Collections of the 
American Historical Association. See Report, 1899, Vol. 2. 

* Quoting from the Monroe Mss., Schouler says that John McLean wrote to a 
friend in 1831 : '* Calhoun, I fear, has gone forever. For four years past he has been 
infatuated with his Southern doctrines. In him they originated/* 



428 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

a conscientious regard for the public welfare. He 
wrote to John McLean : " No person at the head of the 
government has, in my opinion, any claim to the active 
partisan exertions of those in oflSce imder him." 
Schouler^ thinks that McLean was trying to keep 
Monroe in line with his avowed neutrality. More than 
once the Democratic managers "seriously feared an 
embroilment between Jackson and Monroe which would 
bring out the latter on Adams's side. " Southard at a 
dinner party spoke of Monroe as the "real savior of 
New Orleans.'* Naturally this galled Jackson. Jack- 
son's friends had slighted Monroe's claim in Congress; 
and this in turn annoyed Monroe.* Southard was 
working for Adams. Another Adams plan was to have 
Madison and Monroe placed on the Virginia electoral 
ticket in 1828; but the Ex-Presidents declined to 
serve. Adams's managers wanted Monroe to run for 
Vice-President on the Adams ticket in 1828; "and 
many an eflPort was made to draw him from his neu- 
trality. " 

Just after Monroe left the White House, he was 
gratified to receive a complimentary copy of Chief 
Justice Marshall's latest volume, with a letter in which 
his old friend said: 

"Believe me when I congratulate you on the circumstances 
under which your political course terminates, and that I feel 
sincere pleasure in the persuasion that your administration may 
be reviewed with real approbation by our wisest statesmen." 

The Monroes left Washington for Oak Hill, where 
they welcomed the spring of 1825 with anticipatory 
joys — free at last from their onerous White House 
cares. 

Monroe spent the remainder of 1825 and the years 
1826, 1827, 1828, 1829 and the spring of 1830 at Oak 
Hill. Major R. W. N. Noland gave Oilman this 
account of the place: 



^ Monroe Mss. 1826, 1827, letters to and from McLean, as quoted in Schouler. 
* ScliouJer's Hist. Vol. Ill, p. 433, et aeq. McLean's letters in Monroe Mss.; 
Adams's Diary 1828; Madison s Writings. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 4£9 



**The Oak Hill house was planned by Mr. Monroe, but the 
building was superintended by Mr. William Benton, an English- 
man, who occupied the mixed relation to Mr. Monroe of steward, 
counsellor and friend. The house is built of brick in a most 
substantial manner, and handsomely furnished; it is perhaps, 
about 90 X 50 feet, three stories (including basement) and has a 
wide portico, fronting south, with massive Doric columns thirty 
feet high, and is surroimded by a grove of magnificent oaks 
covering several acres. . . . The house in two directions commands 
an attractive and somewhat extensive view, but on the other sides 
it is henmied in by mountains, for the local names of which 'Bull 
Run' and 'Nigger Mountain' it is to be hoped the late President is 
in no wise responsible, and indeed the same may be said of the 
river, or creek, which breaks through these ranges within a mile or 
two of Oak Hill. Tom Moore, in a poetic letter, as brilliant as 
it is ill-natured, satirizing Washington City, writes: *And what 
was Goose Creek once is Tiber now ; but the fact is that no such 
stream is found in the neighborhood of the National Capitol. 
The little stream that washes the confines of the Oak Hill Estate 
once bore the Indian name of Gohongarestaw (the River of Swans) 
and is now called Goose Creek."* 

In a Richmond, Virginia, letter to the writer, Mrs. 
Eugenia T. Fairfax (Mrs. Henry Fairfax) says : 

"I have just recently sold Oak Hill. As you perhaps know, 
it was built by the President during his first presidential term 
on property left him by an uncle named Jones (Judge Joseph 
Jones). In 1850, my father-in-law. Col. John W. Fairfax, pur- 
chased it from Monroe's son-in-law, Sam'l. L. Gouverneur. In 
1870, Col. Fairfax sold it to Dr. George Grimby, of New York, 
from whom my husband purchased it again in 1885. 

"The house is very simple but very solidly and beautifully 
built. The bricks were all burned on the place and all the inside 
woodwork was cut out by hand. The walls are solid and very 
thick. The columns are beautifully proportioned, hollow brick 
and stuccoed. 

"Here Monroe entertained La Fayette . . . and the marble 
mantels in drawing and dining rooms were ordered for him by 
La Fayette and sent over from Italy. I also have a lovely gaming 
table, French, given him by La Fayette." 

President Adams had some unfinished business 
that came to him from the Monroe administration; 
such as that of Captain Porter, of the Navy, who had 

^ Gilman's Monroe, pp. 219, 220. See abo Howe's Hutorical Collections of 
Virsinia, p. S56. 



iM TDE UFB OF JAMES ]flONB(« 

given Monroe a great deal of trouble; but, in tiie 
main^ one period merged with smoothness into tbat 
of the other. Adams was to have plenty of trouble, 
great quarrels were to arise — yet he was enahird to 
say Uiat his four years in the White House ^woe the 
most pleasant, agreeable years of his life.'*^ He was 
^'the first man up in Washington;'' ^H^ted his own 
fires;'' swam in the Potomac; and when he wanted to 
go to Quincy, Mass., rode there and back cm his horse. 
He tells how on June 13, he went swimming with his 
son John and his man Antoine at the Van Ness grounds, 
foot of Seventeenth Street West, west of the Washing- 
ton Monument, where the Tiber entered the Potomac. 
The small leaky boat he was in sank and he bardy 
escaped drowning. He hid, well-nigh naked, under 
the bank, while Antoine, who had lost all his dothes, 
made his way by hook or by crook after a carriage.* 

Thurlow Weed says (Autobiography, VoL I, p. 179) 
that being in Washington on a hot June morning, he 
saw '"a gentleman in nankeen pantaloons and a blue 
pea-jacket walking rapidly from the White House 
towards the river. This was John Quincy Adams, the 
President of the United States. I moved off to a 
respectful distance. The President began to disrobe 
before he reached a tree on the brink of tiie river, where 
he deposited his clothes, and then plunged in, head 
first, and struck out fifteen or twenty rods, swimming 
rapidly and turning occasionally upon his back, seeming 
as much at his ease in that element as upon terra firma. 
Coming out he rubbed himself thoroughly with napkins, 
which he had brought for that purpose in his hand. 
The sun had not yet risen when he had dressed himself 
and was returning to the presidential mansion. " 

Adams notes, July 4, the return of Secretary Southard 
from a visit to Monroe at Oak Hill; and on July 13, the 
return of General Jacob Brown from the same point, 



^ This statement was made to Benjamin F. Ferry, of South Carolinm* in IS4A, 
the vear of Adams's first stroke and two years before his fatal stroke. 
' Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, Vol. VII, p. 97, $i mq. 



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THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 4S1 

bringing an invitation for the President and General 
La Fayette to visit Oak Hill. Adams^ gives a long 
account of this farewell visit by La Fayette to his old 
friend. Here is a summary: 

At four P.M., Aug. 6, General La Fayette, his son, Greorge 
Washington La Fayette, and Mr. (Tench) Ringgold left for Oak 
Hill. John Adams and M. Levasseur were with the party. 
Bastien, La Fayette's valet, and Antoine Michel Giusta, in a 
carryall with one horse, took the baggage. William, the groom, 
followed on horseback. Th^ reached Fairfax Court-House at 
sunset. La Fayette was greeted by the Fairfax people. Up and 
off at five, they breakfasted at the private house of a lame veteran 
of the Revolution, with six miles further to go. An axle-tree broke; 
it was spliced; and La Fayette and Adams proceeded on wheds. 
Some others of the party were obliged to walk. By and by th^ 
met Monroe's son-in-law. Judge George Hay, on horseback. 

We got to Mr. Monroe's house just before noon," says Adams; 

and our fellow-travelers joined us there about an hour later. 
We found Mr. Monroe in good health and spirits. Mrs. Hay and 
her daughter Hortensia were there, but Mrs. Monroe is at New 
York with her daughter, Mrs. Gouvemeur. We found there 
also Dr. Wallace, an eccentric personage, who spent a great 
part of last winter at Washington with Mr. Monroe and had 
just arrived here upon a visit. . . . There were several other 
visitors in the course of the day. . . . There was a heavy thunder 
shower about the dining hour, and the evening was fresh and cool. 
8th. — The night was cool, and this morning fresh, but I was all 
this day unwdl. The heat of the season returned in all its force, 
so that we were confined almost entirely to the house. Numerous 
visitors came in the course of the day." La Fayette was invited 
to Leesburg. "The day was spent in desultory conversation with 
Mr. Monroe, Mr. Hay, General La Fayette, Dr. Wallace, Mrs. 
Hay and the visitors at the house. Dr. Wallace engrossed 
much of the conversation and was much gratified by the appear- 
ance on the porch of the house of a small moccasin snake which 
he caught and descanted on for perhaps an hour, showing us all 
its beauties and especially the venom-bag under its forked tongue. 
He told me he was just recovering from a dropsy brought on by 
swallowing the whole contents of a rattlesnake's venom-bag.* 

1 Memoirs, Vol. VII, pp. 40^. 

' Like Dr. Wallace, Washington was a dose observer. "On one occasion/' 
writes Thomas Handasyd Perkins in his Memoirs, telling of a visit to Mount Vernon 
in the summer of 1796, "a toad passed near to where I was conversing with General 
Washington, which led him to ask me if I had ever observed this reptile swallow 
a fireflv. Upon my answering in the negative he told me that he luid; and, that 
from the thinness of the skin of the toad, he had seen the light of the firefly after it 
had been iwaUowed." 



432 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

The Doctor is extremdy aolidtoua to go out on the Brandywine 
as an extra surgeon." 

The " Brandywine ** was to take La Fayette back to 
France. Dr. Wallace seemed determined that some- 
body should be entertaining if the three great men 
then at Oak Hill were not. 

One wonders why Jefferson did not ride up from 
Monticello and Madison from Montpelier, It would 
have made a memorable gathering. But, considering 
the August heat in Loudon, it was no doubt better tiiat 
they remained at home, where La Fayette was to visit 
each a little later. The next day, August 9, was the 
hottest of the season. Two troops of horse arrived 
at Oak Hill and escorted La Fayette to Leesburg, 
where there was a grand muster and a public reception, 
with Ludwell Lee speaking for the county of Loudon. 
Under a canopy in the courthouse yard there was a 
dinner with toasting and speaking. 

Thiu-low Weed in his Autobiography (Vol. I, p. 180) 
tells us that the chief reason why John Quincy Adams 
failed to secure a second term was his "political imprac- 
ticability." Benton said: * 'This administration, even if 
it be as pure as the angels in Heaven, must be put down." 
Adams disregarded or overlooked what Monroe, Madi- 
son and Jefferson had deemed essential, namely political 
organization and personal popularity. 

That Monroe was one of the company at Monticello 
when La Fayette was there, we learn from several 
sources. For instance, in Barrett's "Old Merchants 
of New York"^ there is this passage concerning two 
brothers of that city — one * 'Nathaniel Wolfe, who 
became a noted lawyer of Louisville, Ky."; and the 
other Udolpho Wolfe, the rich New York and Hamburg 
merchant : 

"Mr. Jefferson wished the children at the school to form a mili- 
tary company to receive La Fayette. It was done, and they were 
regularly drilled, Udolpho Wolfe being the Captain. A stand of 

» The Old Merchants of New York City, by Walter Barrett, clerk, fourth series, 
1860, p. 189. 



THE LIFE OP JAMES MONROE 433 

colors was presented to them. At the grand dinner given to 
La Fayette in the rotunda, the 'soldiers' were invited to be present; 
and they sat directly facing General La Fayette, his son George, 
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Gov. Barbour, 
Rives, Gordon, Southall and all the chivalry of Virginia. Fancy 
such a sight! Three men who had been President of the United 
States in succession." 

This certainly would have been a historical picture 
worth sketching and reproducing on canvas. Both 
Madison and Monroe were Justices of the Peace. " The 
ex-Presidents," says Judge Staples, "did not feel it 
beneath their dignity to hold such a minor oflfice, till 
the day of their death. "^ In 1826 Monroe became 
a Regent of the University of Virginia. He was much 
honored when he visited Charlottesville. On what is 
called "Monroe Hill" had stood his house when he was 
Jeflferson's near neighbor. But the time had now come 
when these three friends must part. Jeflferson died on 
July 4, 1826 — about an hour after John Adams. As 
for Madison, he and Monroe were to come together 
before the public on one more great occasion. 

In the fall of 1828 the voters of Virginia decided, 
21,896 to 16,646, that a Constitutional Convention 
should be held. Monroe was among the many notables 
chosen as delegates. They assembled at Richmond, 
October 5, 1829. Madison named Monroe for the 
chair; no one else was suggested; and Marshall* 
led him to the seat of honor. Madison, in a faded 
brown surtout, sat on the left of the Speaker. "Mr. 
Monroe," says Campbell,* "was very wrinkled and 
weather-beaten, imgraceful in attitude and gesture, 
and his speeches only commonplace. Mr. Giles, who 

^ Memorials of Old Virginia Gerks, by Frederick Johnson of Roanoke, p. 280. 

* Chester Harding, the artist, who ** found great pleasure in painting the whole 
of such a man" as Chief Justice Marshall, was invited by the latter to the Quoit 
Club, a mile from Richmond. He reached the grounds ahead of his host. He says: 
" I watched for the coming of the old chief. ' He soon approached with his coat on 
his arm and his hat in his hand, which he was using as a fan. He walked directly 
up to a large bowl of mint-julep, which had been prepared, and drank off a tumbler 
full of the liquid, smacked his lips, and then turned to the company with a che^ul 
*How are you, gentlemen?* He was the best ^uoit-pitcher there, and could throw 
heavier quoits. — A Sketch ,of Chester Hardmg, Artist; edited by his daughter, 
Margaret E. White, 1890. 

' Charles Campbell, the Virginian historiai^ *' Notes by an Itinerant," in 
Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. III. 18S7. 



434 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

wore a crutch, was then Governor of the State." Of 
the ninety-six members, besides the two ex-Presidents 
and the Chief Justice, there were such able men as 
Upshur, Barbour, Doddridge, Benjamin Watkins, 
Leigh, Chapman, Johnson, Drumgoole, Tyler, Powell, 
Summers, Tazewell, Gordon and Alexander CampbeU.^ 
As Ambler* analyzes it, "there were three dearly 
defined classes of political thinkers in the convention, 
viz.: the reformers and the old and new school of 
conservatives." The men of the western section 
favored the new nationalizing tendencies of the time; 
the men of the old Tidewater counties opposed them. 
The question was, should representation be upon the 
"mixed basis," favored by the Tidewater people, or 
upon the " white basis " favored in the western part of 
the State. Monroe said: "I am satisfied, if no such 
thing as slavery existed, that the people of the Atlantic 
border would meet their brethren of the west upon 
the basis of a majority of the free white population." 
"James Madison's last political battle," says Ford,* 
"was fought over this issue [freehold suffrage] when in 
1830, with the aid of James Monroe and others of the 
elder statesmen, he succeeded in retaining the freehold 
qualifications in the Virginia Constitution, thus exclud- 
ing from the franchise about 80,000 white male citizens 
of his State." "As for throwing off the incubus of 
slavery, which the pliilanthropist had prayed for," 
says Schouler, "Virginia was unequal to the sacrifice.* 
La Fayette, who loved the Old Dominion for her 
traditions, appreciated the influences which dragged 
the State downward. 'Oh! how proud and elated I 
should feel,' he wrote to Monroe,^ 'if something could 
be contrived in your Convention whereby Virginia, 
who was the first to petition against the slave trade 

^ Life of Henry A. Wise, by his grandson. Barton H. Wise, who refers frequently 
to Monroe. 

* Sectionalism in Virginia, 1776-1801, by C. H. Ambler, 1910. 

• Life of Hamilton, p. 302. 

< Schouler, Hist.. Vol. III. p. 470. 

> La Fayette to Monroe. June 17, 1829, Monroe Mss., Niles*s Register, Vol 
XXMIL 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 485 

and afterwards forbid it, who has published the first 
declaration of rights, would take an exalted station 
among the promoters of measures tending first to 
meliorate, then gradually to abolish the slave mode of 
labor. "^ But even JeflFerson in his day seemed power- 
less to initiate any practical Virginia measure in this 
regard; and Madison and Monroe, after the Missouri 
Compromise, foimd the question altogether beyond 
them. Jefferson and La Fayette, anti-slavery enthu- 
siasts, were of a different type from the less assertive 
statesmen who, in their old age, were called upon to 
attend the Convention of 1830. Their presence was 
largely honorary; their influence limited. "Madison 
and Monroe,'* says Ambler, "were strict construction- 
ists, admirers of the works of the fathers and intensely 
fearful of the increasing power and prominence of the 
West.** The smaller class of conservatives, opposed 
to nationalism, were "the political forerunners of such 
men as R. M. T. Hunter, H. A. Wise, James A. Seddon, 
John Y. Mason and Roger A. Pryor. " Only a compro- 
mise could be obtained by those who tried to put 
Virginia upon a new and nationalistic plane. The 
vote at the Constitutional election in April was: 
For 26,055; against 16,666.* 

Monroe had neglected private for public affairs. 
His claims before Congress largely related to his losses 
while in the diplomatic service imder Washington and 
Jefferson. He had put in a statement of expenses 
while associated with Pinkney in England; for some 
reason Madison had suspended payment on it; and, 
then, when Monroe himself entered the State Depart- 
ment, his delicacy prevented him from referring to it. 
Now that he was about to leave the public service, 
he felt himself entitled to the money. This was but 



^ In the story of the Life of William Lloyd Garrison, told by his children, 4 vols. 
Vol. I, p. 154, Monroe's action in the Convention is classed as "pro slavery." 
S. L. Gouverneur is condemned for refusing, while Postmaster of New York, to 
forward papers of the American Anti-Slavery Society, p. 49S. 

* See Dmttes, Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1829-30. Monroe's Slavery 
reference is on p. 149, 



436 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

one instance. How the entanglement of private with 
public aflPairs worked to his detriment was shown in 
the case of his nine hundred and fifty acre tract of land 
above Chariottesville. This tract was sold in his 
absence for neighborhood debts; had he been allowed 
an outfit on his mission to France, this would not have 
happened.^ As to the charges made in Congress 
against Monroe with respect to the sale of lots in 
Washington city, Monroe wrote to Madison (December 
IS, 1824) of the malignity with which his enemies acted. 
There was no ground whatever for the charges. As James 
Buchanan said (in the House, May 18, 1824) Monroe 
"was the very last person against whom the charge 
of an avaricious love of money, and base collusion with 
a subordinate oflScer would ever be brought, or could 
ever be substantiated.*'* In fact, Monroe now paid 
the penalty for extreme attention to the public busi- 
ness and lax methods in handling his own. We read: 
"Mr. Monroe was so devoted to the public, and his 
own affairs were so neglected that two munificent 
grants, one at the last session of Congress of $30,000, 
will scarcely pay his debts. " 

Madison found it necessary to sell some of his land 
and part with some of his shares of stock. On his farms 
he was raising tobacco, horses and mules, but was by 
no means unembarrassed for funds. Himt says that he 
"was repeating in a less degree the experience of 
Jefferson, who, if he lived much longer, would have 
been obliged to abandon Monticello, and of Monroe, 
who was finally obliged to give up Oak Hill. " 

In a letter congratulating Monroe upon his "honor- 
able retirement, " John Jacob Aster reminded him of a 
loan and says: "I would be glad if you would put it 
in a train of 'Sittlement.'" (Sic.) *Mrs. Marian Gouver- 



^ For Monroe*s private losses while in the public service, see Writings of Monroe, 
Vol. VII, pp. 53. 54. 

^ 'Works of James Buchanan, edited by John Bassett Moore; 12 vols., Vol. I, 
p. 117. 

* Wife of Samuel L. Gouvemeur, Jr., Monroe's grandson. In 1911 she published 
"As I Remember, Recollections of American Society during the 19th Century." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 487 

neur, who owned the letter, assures us in her book 
that Astor was duly paid. 

Quite a contrast with the letter from the business-like 
fur-trader was one from a certain unbusiness-like 
Frenchman. La Fayette, having heard of Monroe's 
money troubles, wrote to him in 1828, expressing the 
hope that Congress would come to his rescue. He 
added: 

"In the meanwhile, my dear Monroe, permit your earliest, 
your best, and your most obliged friend to be plain with you. 
It is probable that, to ^ve you time and facilities for your arrange- 
ments, a mortgage nught be of some use. The sale of one-half 
of my Florida property is full enough to meet my family settle- 
ment and the wishes of my neighbors. . . . You remember that 
in similar embarrassment I have formerly accepted your inter- 
vention. It gives me right to reciprocity. Our friend Mr. Graham 
has my f uU powers (of attorney) . Be pleased to peruse the enclosed 
letter, seal it and put it in the post office. I durst not send it before 
I have obtained your approbation. " 

Generous indeed was the old General, thus offering 
Monroe a portion of the land given him by Congress. 
But Monroe could not see his way to profit by the 
large-heartedness of one so like himself in sacrifices 
made to their mutual goddess, Liberty. He declined 
La Fayette's offer. 

In his Diary, May, 1827, John Quincy Adams says 
that Monroe refers to his pecuniary embarrassments 
**and acknowledges himself to have been under some 
obUgations to IngersoU in reference to them."* Accord- 
ing to Ambler, Monroe had to sell Oak HiD and become 
** dependent upon his friends and relatives in New 
York.*' He struggled hard against it. While at Oak 
Hill, despite the discouragement of Judge George Hay, 

^ Memoirs, Vol. Vll, p. 287. Allowances to Monroe and J. Q. Adams, p. 471. 
In the Life of Charles Francis Adams, first, by Charles Francis Adams. Second, Uie 
author savs with reference to his grandfather: "The fact was by reason of incorri- 
gible carelessness in private monetary matters he escaped ruin and want — the fate 
of his predecessor, Monroe — only through the prudent management on the part 
of his son, who, in 18S5-S6, practically, though without that gentleman's consent, 
put the ex-President under financial guardianship/* John Chiincy Adams rately 
Hved within his income. His pay as a member of Congress^ $1500 or $2000 a year, 
was a material part of this. 



488 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

he composed a treatise on free government, possibly 
with the hope that the sale of the book might help him 
out of his difficulties. The work was entitled: "A Com- 
parison of the American Republics with the Republics 
of Greece and Rome." Judge Hay said to him: "A 
history of your Life and Times written by yourself 
would really be interesting and valuable." He was 
right, of course. Judge E. R. Watson of Charlottesville, 
whom Gilman^ quotes, added: "The idea seemed 
quite new to Mr. Monroe; such was his modesty and 
self -depreciation that he had never thought of it before." 
Judge Watson says: 

''In person Mr. Monroe was about six feet high, perhaps rather 
more; broad and square-shouldered and raw-boned. YHien I 
knew him he was an old man (more than seventy jrears of a^) 
and he looked perhaps even older than he was, his face bemg 
strongly marked with the lines of anxiety and care. His mouth 
was rather large, his nose of medium size and well shaped, his 
forehead broad, and his eyes blue, approaching gray. ... In his 
intercourse with his family he was not only unvaryingly kind 
and affectionate, but as ^pntle as a woman or a child. He was 
wholly unselfish. The wishes, the feelings, the interests, the 
happiness of others were always consulted in preference to his 
own. . . . He always used the plainest, simplest language, but 
was not fluent. . . . He lacked the versatility, and I should say also 
the general culture requisite for shining in the social circle, but 
was always interesting and instructive; when with good listeners 
he led in conversation, and talked of the scenes and events 
through which he had passed, ei quorum magna pars fuii. . . . 
Love of country and devotion to duty appeared to me to be the 
explanation of his success in life and the honors bestowed upon 
him. . . . 

•*My impression is that during his whole presidential term he 
appointed no relative or near connection to oflBce. His two sons- 
in-law were George Hay of Virginia and Samuel L. Gouvemeur 
of New York. The former was a lawyer of eminent ability and a 
man of the very highest character, and was promptly appointed to a 
Federal Judgeship ... by John Quincy Adams but he received 
nothing at the hands of Mr. Monroe. And so with Mr. Gouvemeur; 
he was a talented and popular young man, of one of the best 
families of New York, but he received no Federal appointment 
till Mr. Adams had succeeded Mr. Monroe. Then Adams made 

^ Gilman's MoDroe, pp. 186-105. Monroe gave ao outline of the work in a lettef 
fn S. L. Gouvemeur; Gouvemeur Mas. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 488 

him Postmaaier of New York. Judge Hay had a son (by his first 
marriage), Charles Hay, who was made chief clerk of the Navy 
Department under Mr. Adams, but held no office under 
Mr. Monroe. The latter, as I hesLrd from his own lips, was not 
willing, in making appointments, to lay himself liable even to 
the suspicion of b^ng mfluenced by any other consideration than 
the public good. . . . He wrote with no great facility, but with 
pains. His handwriting was v^ bad. Some time in 1829, possibly 
m 1830, by his horse falling with him, he sprained his right wrist 
very badly, and for some time could not write at all. I often acted 
as his amanuensis. His correspondence was immense and with 
the best and wisest men of his day. . . . 

"Mrs. Monroe was Eliza Kortright of New York, the niece, 
I think, of General Ejiox of Revolutionary fame. Even in old a^ 
and feeble health she bore traces of having been very beautiful m 
early life. She survived Judge Hay but a short time. I was at 
Oak Hill, on a visit, when she died. She was not buried^or several 
days, the delay being occasioned by the construction of a vault, 
designed not only for her remains but for those also of Mr. Monroe, 
as he himself told me. I AaXL never forget the touching grief mani- 
fested by the old man on the morning after Mrs. Monroe's death, 
when he sent for me to go to his room and with trembling frame 
and streaming eyes spoke of the long years they had spent happily 
together, and expressed in strong terms his conviction that he 
would soon follow her.** 

Prior to 190S, Mrs. Monroe's grave, in the garden at 
Oak Hill, was shaded by a towering pine. Her daughter 
Maria was buried beside her in 1850. 

Of Mrs. Monroe, John Quincy Adams said: "This 
lady, of whose personal attractions and accomplish- 
ments it were impossible to speak in terms of exagger- 
ation, was for a period little short of a half a century, 
the dierished and affectionate partner of his life and 
fortunes. She accompanied him in all of his joumeyings 
through this world of care." 

After the death of his w^ife, Mom-oe moved to New 
York that he might live with his daughter and her 
husband. Their house was a Dutch-roofed dwelling 
at Prince and Marion Streets, near the Bowery. New 
York at that time had a particular charm, found 
perhaps not so much in its beautiful old buildings, 
its packet ships, white-winged like sea birds, its steam- 



440 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

boat life, its early touch of cosmopolitanism — not so 
much in these things, as in the spirit of its people, 
given fresh access by the opening of the Erie Canal. 

John Watts De Peyster, in his reminiscences of 
S Broadway, where dwelt his grandfather, Hon. John 
Watts, then seventy-three, "straight as an arrow, 
the handsomest old gentleman I ever saw • . . 
with bright, dark blue eyes like sapphires — and the 
most exquisite, silky, silvery, curly or wavy hair" — 
paints a boyhood picture of Monroe also as he appeared 
in New York. De Peyster says: "Uncle Bob (Watts) 
was bosom friend of Sam Gouvemeur, who married a 
daughter of President Monroe. The latter lived with 
Sam . . . and there La Fayette was a constant guest. 
I perfectly remember the aged President, in his satin 
knee-breeches, hovering over a grate in the dingy 
parlor — for dingy it was to me, accustomed to grand 
bright rooms^ .... When I was about nine, he 
(Monroe) came to live permanently with his son-in-law, 
Sam Gouverneur. Sam was a real genial man — no saint. 
He resided in Prince Street, just east of Broadway. 
Mr. Monroe looked just like the usual pictures of him. 
He was very kind to me; I recall him in his black 
velvet or satin knee-breeches sitting close in by the 
side of the front parlor fireplace. He did not strike me 
as a man who should be or had been. President of these 
United States. My uncle, Robert Gilbert Livingston 
de Peyster, who helped Jacob Barker to save the 
picture of Washington when tlie English burnt the 
National Capital, twenty-fourth of August, 1814, knew 
him well. . . . He (Monroe) was exactly like all his 
likenesses, painted or engraved — a venerable gentle- 
man of the old school. . . . Jackson looked like a man, 
but was a decidedly rough specimen. Van Buren, 
polished, but foxy, he looked' his character. Harrison 
an invalid. Tyler, a sharp Virginian — that is, keener 
than the Yankee, with better manners. Taylor, 
another rough specimen with a benevolent hearty 

» John Watts De Peyster, by Frank Allaben, 2 vola.. Vol. I, p. 95. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 441 

expression, which Jackson lacked. ... Of all the Presi- 
dents I have ever seen — Jackson, Van Bnren, Harri- 
son, Tyler, Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, 
Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Grant — the noblest 
figure was Fillmore. He was a perfect type of what an 
American President should be, affable, yet dignified, 
with a very fine presence. . . . Fillmore belonged to 
the Washington type." 

Monroe made himself useful in New York whenever 
an occasion arose requiring his services. There was a 
great meeting at Tammany Hall, November 26, 18S0, 
to organize a celebration of the dethronement of 
Charles X of France. Monroe presided. November 25, 
Evacuation Day, was set for the affair. Samuel 
Swartwout was made grand marshal and Samuel L. 
Gouvemeur orator. As it happened, the day was 
stormy; and the actual celebration was postponed 
until the twenty-sixth. Then New York outdid itself. 
The heroes of the occasion were such* liberty men as 
Monroe himself: David Williams, who helped to 
capture Andre; Enoch Crosby, the original of "Harvey 
Birch" in Cooper's "Spy," and Alexander Whaley, 
who had taken part in the Boston Tea Party.' Anthony 
Glenn, who had raised the flag when the British had 
evacuated the city, and John Von Arsdale, the sailor 
who mounted the staff, rode with the other heroes in a 
barouche. Monroe in his carriage with Gallatin, 
Gouverneur and Duer had the post of honor. The 
route from Canal Street to Washington parade ground 
(Washington Square), two and a half miles, was 
hned wifli applauding thousands: Firemen; printers, 
printing an original ode on sheets which they showered 
upon the populace; butchers, with leg-o'-mutton 
sleeves; mounted cartmen, in white frocks; the 
Whitehall boat carried by watermen; French citizens 
and thousands of others constituted this memorable 
procession. A. feu de joie closed the day. We enumerate 

^ Reminiscences of an Octogenarian of the City of New York (1816-1860), hy 
Charles H. Haswell, 1896, p. 249. 



44« THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

these matters local to New York to indicate Monroe's 
standing in the city where he was to spend his few 
remaining months. Lombardy Street was renamed 
Monroe Street in his honor. In the Diary of Philip 
Hone,* under date of November 28, 18S0, we find 
this reference: **I made a pleasant visit this morning 
to Colonel Monroe, ex-President of the United States, 
who is residing with his son-in-law, Mr. S. Gouvemeur, 
in Prince Street, No. 66. Mr. Monroe is very feeble and 
appears in worse health than usual, the effect of a cold; 
but his mental faculties are unimpaired, and his manner 
and conversation are exceedingly interesting." 

Monroe was not to die without one more political 
worry. As he himself in Washington's last iUness, 
had unwittingly troubled the great General, who 
really loved him, so now the shadow of another fell 
across his own deathbed. The shadow was Jackson's. 
The story about it is by no means inconsequential. So 
significant has it all along appeared — this sequel 
of the Seminole War of 1817-1818 — that it has been 
a fascinating topic for historians. James Schouler 
wrote of it in the brilliant and important third volume 
of his American history; and, under the title " Monroe 
and the Rhea Letter,"^ in the Magazine of American 
History. Edward N. Vallandigham, in magazine and 
newspaper articles, has made a thorough study of it, 
and William G. Sumner and John Spencer Bassett are 
among the biographers of Jackson who have treated 
it with due consideration. 

We have already indicated the effect upon Monroe's 
Cabinet, the country and the world at large of Jackson's 
headlong and provocative campaign in Florida. We 
have also dwelt upon Monroe's disavowal of Jackson's 
course, and have said that all was well that ended well 

» Edited by Bayard Tuckerman, 1889, 2 vob.. Vol. I. pp. 24. 25, 32. Hone at 
forty had made a fortune. He went abroad in the ** James Monroe,'* and on bis 
retm*n opened a big house at 225 Broadway and lent himself with great spirit to 
public betterment. Webster and Clay made his house their headquarters. He 
entertained Fanny Kemble, Captain Marryatt, Charles Dickens, and other 
celebrities. 

s Vol. XII, pp. S-8, et seq. Reprinted in Schouler's Historical Briefs, p. 97. 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONBOE 448 

when at last Florida was secured for the siun of $5,000,- 
000. Jackson's act had brought hun mto greater favor 
than ever. A while ago it was New Orieans; now it was 
a Floridian stroke a la Jupiter Tonans. "That's the 
fellow for us!" said the men at the plow, in the mill, 
on the schooner's deck, in the tavern and on the 
Court House green. It is true, Crawford, Clay and 
others set afoot a congressional investigation, hoping 
thereby to show that Jackson had imperiled the country 
as he might do again, being impulsive, precipitate 
and unsafe — just tlie opposite of Monroe, just the 
kind of man to use in war, if he could be used in the 
right way, but to keep down in peace. Schouler says: 
*' Jackson was resolute, headstrong, self-reliant, dis- 
inclined to obey orders from any one, strongly persistent 
in his own views, and by no means considerate toward 
those he fought or argued against. Monroe, on the 
other hand, was at this epoch, as all accounts agree, 
patient, tolerant, slow in reaching conclusions, but 
magnanimous and considerate — an Executive who 
both sought counsel and encouraged the confidence 
of his counsellors; a Chief Magistrate who took just 
and comprehensive views of public policy, who was 
sensitive (on the point) that all his official acts should 
be rightly performed, and as a man the soul of generous 
honor. " 

Now Jackson had a neighbor and friend, Major 
William B. Lewis, whom Professor Sumner calls "the 
great father of wire-pullers. " He it was who saw to it 
that Jackson became the popular candidate for the 
presidency in succession to Adams. Other men around 
Jackson were Eaton, Livingston, Lee and Swartwout. 
Jackson was no friend of Clay, nor of Crawford; but 
clung to Calhoun. When Jackson was elected President 
in 1828, Calhoim, re-elected Vice-President, looked for 
Jackson's support for the higher place in 1832. But 
there were to be comedies and tragi-comedies in the 
Washington theatre of politico-social activity before 
the arrival of that year of grace. Jackson had a 



444 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 

"Kitchen Cabinet,*' as well as official Cabinet. Major 
Lewis, the Tennessee wire-puller, was at the head of one, 
and Martin Van Buren, the most finished graduate 
of the New York school of genteel statecraft, at the 
head of the other. Associated with Van Buren in the 
official Cabinet, was Lewis' brother-in-law, John H. 
Eaton, Secretary of War, who had for wife Mrs. Timber- 
lake, ex-purser's widow, bom Peggy O'Neil at her 
father's tavern in Washington. Over Mrs. Eaton, 
persona non grata to Mrs. Calhoun, as to most of the 
other high-toned ladies of the Washington official 
circles, there was as bitter a war as there had been with 
the Seminoles. 

But how did the Seminole cat get out of the old 
Monroe Cabinet bag? James A. Hamilton, son of 
Alexander Hamilton, was associated with Major Lewis 
in furthering Jackson's interests. He decided to sound 
Crawford in Jackson's behalf, but first saw Grovemor 
Forsyth, of Georgia. Forsyth said that it was not 
Crawford but Calhoun who had spoken against Jackson 
in Monroe's Cabinet. Forsyth wrote to Hamilton to 
that effect, and Hamilton showed the letter to Lewis. 
In November, 1829, President Jackson gave a dinner 
in honor of Monroe. One of the speakers. Tench 
Ringgold, said that Monroe had stood by Jackson in 
1818; whereupon Lewis and Eaton buzzed each other 
so knowingly that Jackson's suspicious curiosity was 
aroused. Lewis and Eaton were plotting to supplant 
Calhoun with Van Buren, provided Jackson's lack of 
health should make it imperative upon him to retire 
from the White House at the end of his first term. 
They were not a Rozencranz and Guilderstern, these 
two, nor was Jackson a Hamlet; but they knew all his 
stops and could play upon him with less likelihood of 
rebuke than the would-be manipulators of the melan- 
choly Dane. 

And now for the crisis: Crawford betrayed Calhoun 
to Jackson. Cabinet secrets that should have gone to the 
grave with him were now revealed under Crawford's own 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 445 

hand. For the first time Jackson learned that Calhoun 
had condemned his Seminole proceedings, and had 
wished him to be court-martialed. The Tennessean 
was enraged. "Dazed" at first, it was said; but soon 
enraged. He wrote to Calhoun. Was it true? he asked. 
Calhoun replied as best he could. He tried to make it 
clear that what he felt as a man — warm regard — and 
what he thought as an official were different things. 
Jackson knew no such refined distinctions. Calhoim 
was either for him or against him. From that moment, 
he was Calhoun's enemy. Calhoun's chances for the 
presidency vanished. He could now devote himself 
to his southern idea. Nullification? Jackson would 
stop that business; but Calhoun would never be the 
same; he had been a good genius, what would he be 
now? he would live longer than Jackson; he would 
presently represent the dread idea of disunion and 
death on many a bloody battlefield. What a tragedy ! 
How much was here involved ! Such was the quarrel that 
arose between Jackson and Calhoim; and that, too, 
on account of the letter to which we referred in the 
preceding chapter. This letter, known as the " Rhea 
letter"^ or "Jackson's January letter" because written 
by Jackson to Monroe, January 6, 1818, was received 
by Monroe when he was in bed too sick to read it. 
He handed it to Calhoun, who saw at a glance that it 
was confidential and said so. Crawford declared that 
it was read at a cabinet meeting when the Seminole 
matters were discussed; Calhoun said it was not read; 
Monroe was of the decided impression that it was "not 
brought into consideration in 1818 at all." But why 
the pother about it? Because Jackson found warrant 
and excuse in the letter for doing as he pleased in 
Florida. Monroe was to connive secretly at a smash- 
^gly aggressive campaign and pass his assent along 
through Jackson's confidential friend. Congressman 
Rhea, who would see that it traveled by the grapevine 

^ See Parton's Life of Jadciom Vol. U, p. 4dS, for the letter infull; dao Schouler*a 
Historical Bricf^ p. 100. 



448 THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 



ment knew Jackson's views on the capture of the Spanish forts 
before he marched his army into Florida." 

From this time on there was talk about the matter; 

and in his letters to Madison and Rush> Monroe was 

at pains to defend himself.^ He wrote to Calhoun, 

January 28, 1827: 

''I solenmly declare that I never read that letter until after 
the affair was concluded; nor did I ever think of it until you 
recalled it to my recollection by an intimation of its contents and 
a suggestion that it had also been read by Crawford, who had 
mentioned it to some person who might be disposed to turn it to 
some account.' ... I asked Mr. Rhea in a conversation whether 
he had ever intimated to Gen. Jackson his opinion that the 
administration had no objection to his making an attack on 
Pensacola, and he declared that he never had. I did not know 
if the General had written him to the same effect as he had to me» 
as I had not read my letter, but that he might have led me inno- 
cently into a conversation in which, wishing to obtain Florida, 
I might have expressed a sentiment from ^p^ch he might have 
drawn that inference. But he assured me that no such conversation 
ever passed between us. " 

Commenting on the Rhea letter, Professor Bassettf 
says: 

''This letter was sound in its military ideas and unsound in 
its notion of foreign policy. . . . The suggestion that Florida be 
held as indemnity was impracticable. . . . Later Jackson asserted 
that while on his way to Fort Scott, in February, 1818, he received 
from Rhea the expected assurance and that it was in consequence 
of that information that he carried his army boldly into Florida. 
He also asserts that he preserved Rhea's letter till the Seminole 
controversy^of the succeeding winter became warm, and that he 
then, April 12, 1819, burned the letter at Rhea's request, who 
said that he urged it at Monroe's solicitation. He also said that 
he wrote a note to this effect on the margin of his letter-book 
the day the communication from Rhea was destroyed, and that 
his friend. Judge Overton, saw the letter while it was extant. . . . 
Monroe's story differs totally from Jackson's. . . . The historian 
must choose between the statements of the two men. Both are 
persons of conceded honesty, and we cannot impugn the intentions 

* Madison's Writings, 1819; Monroe Mss, 

* Monroe Mss. 

* The Life of Andrew Jackson, by John Spencer Bassett, 1911, 2 vols.. Vol. I, 
p. 246, el aeq. *'lt was not candid in Monroe," adds Bassett, "to allow Jackson 
to believe that Calhoun was his friend in the Seminole matter." 



THE LIFE OF JAMES MONROE 449 

of either. But Monroe, as an educated man and a trained official, 

Erobably had a more reliable memory. Jackson's defense, which 
e prepared at the time but did not publish, shows that he was 
not judicially minded. There is more probability that his memory 
was poorer than Monroe's. " 

Professor Bassett eniunerates certain other facts 
that weaken Jackson's story. The letter-book referred 
to would furnish corroborating evidence but it cannot 
be found. What harm would the Rhea letter have done 
commensurate with the commotion caused by its 
assumed destruction? The Florida cession treaty was 
signed seven weeks before the letter was said to have been 
destroyed. " When Rhea was called on later to corrobo- 
rate Jackson he was so old that his faculties were weak. 
He wrote at least three letters to Jackson before he was 
able to recall all that Jackson desired and he did not 
succeed till he received some important promptings." 
Yet Professor Bassett cannot beUeve in Jackson's 
obliquity in the matter. He goes back to th